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The Death of God and the Loss of Human Dignity

PlannedP

I am sure by now that many of you have seen the appalling hidden-camera videos of two Planned Parenthood physicians bantering cheerfully with interlocutors posing as prospective buyers of the body parts of aborted infants. While they slurp wine in elegant restaurants, the good doctors—both women—blandly talk about what price they would expect for providing valuable inner organs, and how the skillful abortionists of Planned Parenthood know just how to murder babies so as not to damage the goods. One of the doctors specified that the abortion providers employ “less crunchy” methods when they know that the organs of a baby are going to be harvested for sale. Mind you, the “crunchiness” she’s talking about is a reference to the skull-crushing and dismemberment by knife and suction typically employed in abortions. For me, the most bone-chilling moment was when one of the kindly physicians, informed that the price she was asking was too low, leered and said, “Oh good, because I’d like a Lamborghini.”

Now it is easy enough to remark and lament the moral coarseness of these women, the particularly repulsive way that they combine violence and greed. But I would like to explore a deeper issue that these videos bring to light, namely, the forgetfulness of the dignity of the human being that is on ever clearer display in our Western culture. One has only to consider the over 58,000,000 abortions that have taken place, under full protection of the law, in our country since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the ever more insistent push toward permitting euthanasia, even of children in some European countries, or the wanton killing going on nightly in the streets of our major cities. The figures in my home town of Chicago typically surpass those recorded in the battle grounds of the Middle East.

What makes this sort of startling violence against human beings possible, I would submit, is the attenuation of our sense of God’s existence. In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights. I use Jefferson’s language from the Declaration of Independence on purpose here, for the great founding father knew that the absolute nature of the rights he was describing follows from their derivation from God: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern. For Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato, a cultural elite enjoyed rights, privileges, and dignity, while the vast majority of people were legitimately relegated to inferior status, some even to the condition of slavery. In the totalitarianisms of the last century—marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God—untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.

I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless. For instance, if human worth is a function of a person’s intelligence or creativity or imagination, or her capacity to enter into friendship, then why not say that this worth disappears the moment those powers are underdeveloped, weakened, or eliminated altogether? Or if respect for human dignity is related to the strength of one’s feeling for another person, then who is to say that that dignity vanishes once one’s sentiments change or dry up? My suspicion is that if we interrogated people on the street and asked them why human beings should be respected, some version of this argument from sentimentality would emerge. But again, the problem is that feelings are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind. If you doubt me, read some of the accounts of the officers and soldiers in the Nazi death camps, who, after years of killing, lost all feeling for those they were murdering, seeing them as little more than rats or insects.

For the past two hundred years, atheists have been loudly asserting that the dismissal of God will lead to human liberation. I would strenuously argue precisely the contrary. Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested. In the measure that people still speak of the irreducible dignity of the individual, they are, whether they know it or not, standing upon Biblical foundations. When those foundations are shaken—as they increasingly are today—a culture of death will follow just as surely as night follows day. If there is no God, then human beings are dispensable—so why not trade the organs of infants for a nice Lamborghini?

Bishop Robert Barron

Written by

Bishop Robert Barron is Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He is an acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian. He’s America’s first podcasting priest and one of the world’s most innovative teachers of Catholicism. His global, non-profit media ministry called Word On Fire reaches millions of people by utilizing new media to draw people into or back to the Faith. Bishop Barron is also the creator and host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, 10-part documentary series and study program about the Catholic Faith. He is the author of several books including Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master (Crossroad, 2008); The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path (Orbis, 2002); and Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (Image, 2011). Find more of his writing and videos at WordOnFire.org.

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  • William Davis

    “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” - Friedrich Nietzche
    Of course, it's not like God was killed intentionally, we killed him with new thinking and skeptical observations of the universe. Naturalism has continued to replace gods with natural deterministic processes. Even if Barron is right about the consequences of atheism (which I don't think he is, humanism does very well when embraced), it's not going to make atheism go away for those who believe it's true based on the evidence we find in reality. In it's core, that's my problem, more accurate models of reality seem to leave less and less room for God, especially the type that interfere's with reality.

    • " Even if Barron is right about the consequences of atheism (which I don't think he is, humanism does very well when embraced)"

      Thanks for the comment, William. I believe Fr. Barron is referring to the *logical* consequence of atheism, not the practical consequences. On naturalism/atheism, what logical reason is there to suspect human beings are imbued with innate and inviolable dignity? On atheism, what moral "ought", other than communal, pragmatic agreement (which is not objective or universally binding) prohibits the killing of innocent human beings?

      "it's not going to make atheism go away for those who believe it's true based on the evidence we find in reality."

      First, he's not suggesting that the logical consequences of atheism should "make atheism go away." He's suggesting it's an untenable position to be both a naturalist and a supporter of innate human rights.

      Second, I'm curious: what evidence do you find in reality to support atheism? I'm not looking for a lack of evidence for the opposing view, but actual positive evidence in support of atheism. I'm not aware of any, but perhaps I just haven't seen it yet.

      "In it's core, that's my problem, more accurate models of reality seem to leave less and less room for God, especially the type that interfere's with reality."

      This is only to refute the old "God of the gaps", which very few serious-minded Christians advocate. We don't believe in God simply because he fills in the gaps of our scientific knowledge. We believe in God for several other reasons: through personal experience, through reflecting on the existence of the contingent natural world, through reflecting on causes and effects, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, etc.

      God is not one scientific model among many, proffered to explain the complexity of the cosmos. He's the necessary ground of all being, without which there would be no cosmos.

      • Phil Rimmer

        " what evidence do you find in reality to support atheism? "

        The pre-theist view of the world, of a single brief existence made sweet by mutuality is the only one, all on the planet can have in common before their various religions and faiths are added in. Only a morality built upon our maximally shareable experience can maximise that mutuality by its open-handed fairness to a demonstrable single common existence. No restitutions after death, like thus or so, but only a desire for a full accounting in the here and now.

        Francis Bacon said that the atheist was fully equipped for a full moral life and that the super-addition of the supernatural would only risk a degradation of a decent accounting.

        Mutuality requires corroboration of feelings, desires and experience. Pre-theist, none are excluded from common feelings and shared values. The potential for mutuality in a fairer here and now is a worthy target. The evidence? The here and the now are palpable to all.

        I would that we were unwittingly pre-theists together, but sadly we
        are theists, atheists and antitheists. Atheism is the closest
        approach to a common shareable substrate for all upon which to build a moral mutuality. Hopefully that should check most of the moral boxes for the religious others. It certainly gets UK Quakers off the hook...

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Do you have a source for that Bacon statement?

          • Phil Rimmer

            I came across it first quoted in Shelley's Atheist "manifesto" of 1811. I can dig that up.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I can on your quote in Shelley's "The Necessity of Atheism" supposedly from Bacon's "Moral Essays" but his moral essay on atheism shows Bacon was not in the least in support of atheism.

          • Phil Rimmer

            But I don't need him to be for my purposes. I wanted his specific single point. I can quite see at the time a great mind keen to urge the importance of evidence could see this and believe that it must be a guide for the necessarily religious. Judge and deal with people based on what you know with certainty.

        • materetmagistra

          @Phil R:"Pre-theist, none are excluded from common feelings and shared values."

          Obviously the values were not all "shared" or we would still be pre-theist. What might account for the "fall" from your ideal "pre-theist" world?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Easy. All were " susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested.

          • materetmagistra

            So, this "self-interest." Was this a "common feeling and shared value"? Likewise, the desire for "power" - was this a common feeling and shared value?

          • William Davis

            Easy, the fall didn't happen. Evolution, death, and suffering have been going on for millions of years.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Sorry, but what are you talking about?!

          • Phil Rimmer

            The atheist pragmatic position is the most shareable on the planet and is the one most needed in civil society.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Pragmatic atheism? That's a new one, no?

            Atheism always needs another ism to go with it to give it direction. Why should the direction be good?

            In the 20th century we had atheism + Marxism that meant the enslavement and murder of hundreds of millions.

            We had atheism + National socialism and the horrors of WWII.

            We are still experiencing atheism + feminism and have the abortion holocaust.

            Atheism + environmentalism, for its radical adherents, calling for getting rid of most human beings.

            Atheism + bioethics = Peter Singer infanticide.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Atheism always needs another ism to go with it to give it direction.

            Of course! Atheism only addresses one question. I wouldn't say the ism gives atheism direction, I would say that the other isms are the ways that we try to live our life.

            Why should the direction be good?

            Because it does. Atheism + enlightenment gives us liberal democracy and liberty.

            In your list of atheism+, for the most part, atheism could not be considered the cause of the horrors that are associated with the governments.

            In the 20th century we had atheism + Marxism that meant the enslavement and murder of hundreds of millions.

            This had nothing to do with atheism and everything to with communism, which shares many things with other religions.

            We had atheism + National socialism and the horrors of WWII.

            In no way should atheism be held responsible for the horrors of WW2 or national socialism. Firstly, Nazi anti-Semitism was rooted in millennia of Christian and Catholic anti-Semitism. Secondly, national socialism and WW2 was the result of a poorly thought out treaty, a Germany unused to democratic government, and economics.

            We can also look at dictators such as Salazar and Franco that the Catholic Church cooperated with. The Church tends to cooperate and support dictators whose policies line up with Church's goals, while opposing dictators who have policies in opposition to the Church. Us atheists, who are in favor of liberal democracy, oppose all dictators. If the United States fell under the rule of a Catholic dictator who outlawed abortion and gay marriage, I am sure many Catholics would view this as a better state of affairs. There is a theocratic strain that runs strong in the Roman Church.

            We are still experiencing atheism + feminism and have the abortion holocaust.

            Not sure why atheism should be paired with feminism, but it is a positive association. Women's suffrage, pay parity, and equal rights are all happy things. Abortion is a difficult moral issue, but comparing it to the Nazi genocide is rather depraved.

            Atheism + environmentalism, for its radical adherents, calling for getting rid of most human beings.

            Trying to keep the population at sustainable levels is an admirable thing. Nobody is trying to get rid of most human beings. We just know that the earth cannot sustain an exponentially increasing population. I'm not sure what this has to do with atheism, but again it is a positive association.

            Atheism + bioethics = Peter Singer infanticide.

            Just because one atheist holds that infanticide is moral, does not mean that all atheist bioethicists will hold to the same.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The Enlightenment + Christianity/Deism (both were present) gave us the US Constitution and confirmed inalienable God-given rights.

            The Enlightenment + atheism gave us the French Revolution and Reign of Terror.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The Enlightenment + Christianity/Deism (both were present) gave us the US Constitution and confirmed inalienable God-given rights.

            The enlightenment + Deism + protestant individualism + secularism gave us the US constitution. Deism is a step away from a personal deity and organized religion and a step towards atheism.

            The creator God of Jefferson who gives us inalienable rights is a far cry from the God of Catholic tradition. The Catholic God does not allow privacy of beliefs or heresy to go unpunished. The US constitution is a divorce from the Catholic ways of governance.

            The Enlightenment + atheism gave us the French Revolution and Reign of Terror.

            Firstly, very few enlightenment figures were public atheists. They were usually Deists, who valued discerning truth via reason, and they therefore took the first step away from personal deities and religion. Once the human mind was liberated from religious oppression and we were allowed to reason freely without fear of punishment, atheism became preferred over deism. Secondly, I think you have to note that a main difference between the US and France is that the latter was a Catholic Country, while the United State was a protestant country seceding from another protestant country.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Jefferson got his idea of inalienable rights from Locke who got it from Suarez, a Catholic philosopher.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I do not know much about Suarez, but Locke was not a big fan of Catholicism.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Yet that is where he got the idea.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That does not make the idea a particularly Catholic idea. Not every philosopher who happens to be Catholic is doing Catholic philosophy. In the end, the greatest not Scriptural influences on Catholicism are probably Aquinas and Augustine.

            I was thinking about our above discussion a little bit and I don't think it makes sense to attempt to isolate single causes for violent or benevolent behavior, especially when we are considering entire societies. There are also economic considerations, which I think are a great driving factor.

            I do think that considering every human being as your neighbor is a great idea, and no doubt a civilizing one. However, at the same time, religious beliefs also divide us into groups of Jew and Christian, Christian and Muslim, or Heretic and Orthodox. I do think we have to lay at least some of the blame for the tremendous violence against Jews on Christianity.

          • VicqRuiz

            I don't disagree, as long as we remember that Christianity without the Enlightenment gave us the slaughter of the Cathars and the Münster Rebellion.

          • fergalf

            Secularist alone and not communism are to blame for many abuses, look at Calles in Mexico or post revolution France. Liberal democracy is a very good thing but there is no link between secularism and liberal democracy.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Most liberal democracies have secular constitutions.

          • Phil Rimmer

            There is indeed a lot of dreadful theist nonsense to sweep away for the post theist. They do the best they can. As a pre-theist I got my moral education from my parents and my marvelous peers. The issue of religion really only occurred when I encountered my first creationist at 24. None of my friends were religious...The path to pre-theism for many (and most in the US) will be via a via at least a generation of the atheist stance. The real plan is substantially to see an end to the term atheist. Children given the freedom to learn critical thinking, ethics, civics and the like, as pre-theist, can choose for themselves.

            Pre-theism increasingly is the mode in northern European countries. Morality is a universal capacity, that continues to evolve through our cultures. Idealisms of all stripes will give way to an evolutionary Betterism. Pragma will ditch dogma because the outcomes will be...better.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Have you been drinking? What the heck are you talking about?

            Are you making up your own, new ideology?

          • Phil Rimmer

            You are exactly right. I haven't set out my stall. I'm writing this whilst on a family break and I have minutes rather than an hour or so. My usual failing of not having a clear idea of what is in other peoples' heads. I am always shocked at other peoples's inability to know what is in my head despite having thought my thoughts quite clearly...

            I shall get back to this in a day or so.

            I had indeed been drinking earlier....a pint of Waterside Ale at The Green Man Bradwell Waterside before a coastal trek to see St Peter-on-the-Wall, possibly the oldest church in England at 654 CE. A weird and wonderful coast, saturated with history. Wiki the church....so much more impressive than the later braggadocio.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Waterside Ale? A lukewarm British pint of beer, without foam? Try a Belgian beer (but don't drive a car after you had more than one)!

          • Phil Rimmer

            Yet the micro-brewerys doing this stuff have moved on. There are some great tasting beers with the complexity of some of the better wines. Low in alcohol, but great for keeping the fluid content up on a hot day's walk.

          • William Davis

            Lol, I just drank a Belgian beer for the first time this weekend. You are right about driving the car ;) It was very good.

          • LaDolceVipera

            We have about 1.400 varieties of beer. So you have quite a few happy weekends to look forward to. Enjoy!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'd love to discuss all this with you over a pint.

          • Phil

            Hey Phil--great name by the way ;)

            I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to figure out what you are proposing. But the one thing I can pick out is that it seems you are trying to propose some sort of objective moral system on atheistic grounds. Is this correct?

          • Phil Rimmer

            No to objective morality from me, but lots to say about this, so you may have to wait a few days for a better response....

          • Phil

            I will look forward to your more in-depth response then!

            The reason I ask is it seemed that there were some values above that you believed that everyone *ought* to follow. If a person truly believes this to be the case, then they believe that some kind of objective values/morals exist that ought to followed.

            But if a person does not believe that objective values/morals exist, then a person cannot rationally say that any value judgment should be followed over any other value judgment. All value/moral judgements are equal because all are equally subjective no matter what.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Nietzsche is mostly useless, IMO. He was too early to understand the extraordinary way our minds and sentiments have evolved and how we value.

          • Phil

            You would then disagree with Nietzsche and hold that a person can be an atheist and hold objective values to exist that the human person ought to follow?

          • Phil Rimmer

            No to objective values from me (still). I've just seen some in action and they made me sick to my stomach.

          • Phil

            Why do some values make you sick to your stomach? I'm assuming it would be some sort of an irrational prejudice towards those values that made you not like them?

          • David Nickol

            Atheism always needs another ism to go with it to give it direction. Why should the direction be good?

            It seems to me that atheism isn't really an ism at all in any significant sense. The question of whether atheism is a religion has been debated, and I think the consensus was that it is not. All the horrors you mention (like feminism!) can just as easily have Christian adherents as atheist ones.

            Bioethics isn't an "ism."

      • George

        executions for heresy, Brandon. did they really exist in the past? how much intrinsic dignity did Giordono Bruno have?

        "I'm not looking for a lack of evidence for the opposing view."

        the lack of evidence for the theist view is the point.

        "god of the gaps"

        try something for a while Brandon. it clears things up mentally in my experience. just use the formal term Argument from Ignorance instead of god of the gaps.

        "He's the necessary ground of all being, without which there would be no cosmos."

        Are you exempt from having to support that claim?

      • William Davis

        On naturalism/atheism, what logical reason is there to suspect human beings are imbued with innate and inviolable dignity? On atheism, what moral "ought", other than communal, pragmatic agreement (which is not objective or universally binding) prohibits the killing of innocent human beings?

        Part of the moral "ought" is human nature, though it is quite easy to devalue one who is not part of one's own "tribe". Christians have done this as they burned/condemned heretics, witches, and enslaved non-Christians. Muslims do this to this very day in the name of God. Some cults have used the name of God to justify suicide, and countless other atrocities. Moral problems to not go away at all with belief in God, an it's possible that it complicates things when traditional beliefs attributed to God conflict with one's own conscience.

        That said, I appreciate the idea of grounding morality in objective reality, and I hope that one day we do have some kind of consensus on an ethical system, but all of them seem to have some flaw or another. Believing that one has the one true moral system from God feels good because one no longer feels obligated to question and improve their own moral system.

        Second, I'm curious: what evidence do you find in reality to support atheism? I'm not looking for a lack of evidence for the opposing view, but actual positive evidence in support of atheism. I'm not aware of any, but perhaps I just haven't seen it yet.

        God is not one scientific model among many, proffered to explain the complexity of the cosmos. He's the necessary ground of all being, without which there would be no cosmos.

        These two are related so I'll deal with them together. God is one possible philosophical grounding for all being. Even inside the idea of God, there is tremendous room for variation. God could be the one substance that exists, as Spinoza eloquently proposed, and thus not a human like mind at all. God could be the jealous/vengeful being proposed in many books of the Hebrew Bible, though the author of Ecclesiastes points out that his judgement (or simple misfortune) falls on the righteous and the wicked with no rhyme or reason. God could be like the God of Islam who wishes destruction on the nonbeliever, but this few has also been held with conviction in Christendom. Too many theories of God's morality, thus we are left to our own reason and empathy to figure it out. I just don't see how God helps, except to help someone feel better about their own convictions. It is important not to underestimate the power of certainty and how good it feels to cause someone to be overconfident about their own beliefs. Plenty more I could say, but I don't want to drone on too long. Thanks for responding (the article definitely made me think of Nietzche and that famous quote) :)

      • David Hardy

        I will offer some thoughts on this subject.

        On morality, an atheistic position may not say human rights are innate. However, an atheistic position may say that human moral inclinations, which include the desire to treat others in a pro-social way in certain areas (their rights), are innate. This conclusion would be grounded in observing human behavior. While not universally binding, this is consistent with the conflict and immorality found throughout human history, along with the efforts to form and maintain society through moral conduct.

        On positive proofs for atheism, this is actually my primary interest in responding, since I would agree that atheists normally focus on the lack of evidence for God in supporting the atheist position. This is consistent with philosophical skepticism, to which many atheists subscribe, since this position rejects a belief that lacks evidence, in order to avoid accepting what may only be a fantasy.

        However, I do believe there are positive proofs for atheism. Not absolute proofs that demonstrate it to be true, but rather evidence that seem to indicate it to be true, and offers an alternate explanation for theistic thinking besides God actually existing. I offer them here because I can fully understand how it can be frustrating to only hear criticisms of your own view, rather than reasons to hold the opposing view.

        In positive proofs for atheism, the natural laws and basic matter of the universe operate in a very consistent fashion. All observable things with minds (living creatures) show at least some variation (inconsistency) in their behavior. This indicates these laws and basic matter operates without mental guidance. One may argue for a God with perfect consistency of mind, but this is not consistent with what is observed about how mental processes work.

        Second, observed minds (again, living creatures) occur late temporally and spatially. Living creatures do not appear until far after many mindless objects, from stars to planets, and even after they appear, creatures with advanced mental properties occur after simpler creatures. Likewise, living creatures are very complex structurally, while evidence suggests that matter begins with simplicity and then organizes into more complex forms. Therefore, observed evidence does not suggest sentience and sapience are foundational processes in existence. A foundational God transcending space and time may be possible, but this would be in opposition to what is observed within space and time. On the other hand, it is possible that the basic substance of the universe simply exists, and causation and maintenance is only a concept relevant in terms of organization. For humans, we only observe things that are already at a significant level of complexity, so our intuition is that there must be a cause or maintaining factor to the universe may be a false assumption due to this fact.

        Third, and this moves more in the direction of explaining theism, humans naturally infer human-like traits (anthropomorphize). This has value, as it has led to domesticating wild animals and recognizing hidden manipulation by others in events, but also leads to false inferences. In theism, this appears in the myriad Gods in religion that seem to relate human traits to natural forces. Zeus as an anthropomorphized sky and weather, for example. For me, Christianity seems to be an anthropomorphizing of the community itself. The body of Christ, the importance of believing in Christ (common belief), the centrality of moral behavior (vital to communities forming and maintaining), all indicate that this may be an explanation for the belief in God as presented in Christianity. Regardless of whether it is, however, knowing that humans infer mental qualities where there is no evidence that they exist should be cause for caution with any proposed deity.

        Fourth, also relating to explaining theism, all human experience is a part of consciousness. When we experience the outside world, our senses are generating (hopefully) an accurate reflection of what is being sensed. Perception then adds assumptions about its nature before it is even consciously considered. Therefore, when a person intuits that mind is the ground of everything they experience, this is true. But we experience mental representations, not reality directly, and this explains why this intuition may exist.

        Hopefully, these positive evidences help. Again, these do not prove atheism nor disprove theism. However, they do indicate, to me, that it is plausible that theism is the result of certain errors that are natural to human thinking, which exist due to other value this same thinking produces, and that atheism seems to have some support from what is observable in nature.

    • "humanism does very well when embraced"

      Yes, but what forces anyone to embrace it or any other moral system? Humanism assumes the intrinsic dignity of the human person. What is to stop your new thinking and skeptical observations from killing that to?

      That does not prove skepticism wrong but it might make one wonder if it is overrated. There is no reason why faith and reason can't co-exist. Skepticism is itself something we can be skeptical of.

      • Phil Rimmer

        Skepticism doesn't turn off our feelings, it just makes us look more closely at truth claims and evidence. Whats not to like?

      • David Nickol

        Skepticism is itself something we can be skeptical of.

        Where is Joe Heschmeyer when we need him? How can you be skeptical of skepticism?

      • William Davis

        Yes, but what forces anyone to embrace it or any other moral system? Humanism assumes the intrinsic dignity of the human person.

        Nothing forces anyone to embrace any moral system other than parents indoctrinating children, and police enforcing laws. Even then, they can only force an appearance embracing it, each individual keeps whatever secrets they want in their heart. Humanism does assume the an intrinsic dignity in the human person, but Christianity makes all kinds of other assumptions to get there, and these only help if you believe the assumptions. Perhaps one who embraces humanism freely has a better heart than someone who follow's God's commands out of fear of judgement. As forensic technology continues to improve, and as we add things like body cams to cops (to prevent abuse), we can expect a better enforcement of morality here on earth, though it is subject to the laws of the land obviously.

        What is to stop your new thinking and skeptical observations from killing that to?

        Nothing, but Christianity failed to stop the Nazi's in a mostly Christian country. Nothing can stop things from changing, even though that can be a bit frightening sometimes. We must stick we reason and persuasion (and sometimes force as a last resort) to prevent a recurrence of such things. Christianity didn't work before, it's safe to assume it won't work again. Memory of Nazi Germany definitely helps, and though growing largely atheist, Germany is probably now the least like to commit these kinds of atrocities now. Muslims in Africa seem the most likely, and they believe in God. Reality and human behavior is just not nearly as simplistic as what Barron proposes.

        That does not prove skepticism wrong but it might make one wonder if it is overrated. There is no reason why faith and reason can't co-exist. Skepticism is itself something we can be skeptical of.

        That's fair in a way, and you can definitely take skepticism too far, we call that conspiracy thinking. I try to stay balanced and fair, but skepticism has served me extremely well in my personal life and in my job (especially in my job). This isn't cynicism by any means, skepticism is a powerful truth filter as out of all the things we can imagine, only a handful are likely to be close to the truth. Skepticism weeds out competing models and ideas, and there are a ton of competing worldviews. Of course people weight evidence in different ways, and someone who has had what they believe to be an experience ( or multiple experiences) of the divine, might be a skeptic and a Christian too. I've never had such experiences, even though I was raised around Christians who claimed them all the time....my guess is my mind operates in a somewhat different way perhaps with a better reality testing mechanism. People with extremely week reality testing are highly vulnerable to schizophrenia and other disorders such as delusion, perhaps I'm at the opposite end of the bell curve (just a theory ;)

        • Phil Rimmer

          " you can definitely take skepticism too far, we call that conspiracy thinking."

          No. Skepticism doesn't confabulate.

          • William Davis

            In a way I agree, skepticism gone too far is perhaps no longer skepticism, but an evil twin as this neurologist puts it.
            http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/conspiracy-thinking-skepticisms-evil-twin/

          • Phil Rimmer

            But it is not skepticism per se that drives conspiracy theory, otherwise you would be skeptical of those theories too. Conspiracy theorists are mostly low level anxious paranoids (there is a lot of it about especially in stressed and unequal societies where religion flourishes) who are in need of some social capital. Nor should we conflate the principle with cynicism. Skepticism is a thinking tool, of itself free of emotional content and cognitive bias. Its an app not running on the best of platforms.

      • George

        "yes, but what forces anyone to embrace it or any other moral system?"

        is it a problem if people are not forced? I thought even believers said that people have free will and are not coerced into following god. so does the christian moral system force anybody to do anything?

        • At some point morality needs to create moral obligations. Yes we have free will to do good or do evil. Yet true morality makes clear what is good and what is evil. Life is complex so clarity is a challenge yet we should be able to get the main questions right with some certainty. Abortion really is the big letter E at the top of the moral eye chart. Do not kill you own children. What could be a more basic moral principle? Before we had 4d ultrasounds we could claim some ignorance.

    • Mike

      You sometimes sound more like a protestant arguing with his minister than an atheist objecting to the God of classical theism.

      • William Davis

        Of course. The God of classical theism has nothing to do with Christianity, even though Christian philosophers developed it. Pure being just is, it doesn't do. El/Yahweh is a God that does.

        • Mike

          Yup, protestant.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Do you think that Catholicism is more rational than all other branches of Christianity? I would point out that main of the greatest theistic philosophers were protestants. Plantinga is one.

            I am somewhat amused when Catholic pretend like their faith is on much better footing than their protestant brethren.

          • Mike

            more rational isn't how i'd put it but certainly more developed and internally consistent and more coherent. plantinga is a theistic personalist but great to listen to and i am sure he's brilliant but classical theism is something very different.

            protest - ants are often times making it up as they go but the basics we share and agree on even if their rational for those basics are not as strong as we think ours are.

            btw imho catholics are like stronge atheists...imho real atheists who go all the way so to speak.

  • David Nickol

    And yet violent crime (including murder) is at an all-time low in the United States. In 1973 (the year Roe v Wade was decided), the murder rate in the United States was 9.4 per 100,000 people. It went as high as 10.2 in 1980, but according to the most recent data I can find, it was 5.0 in 2009, 4.8 in 2010, 4.7 in 2011, 4.7 in 2012, and 4.5 in 2013. The abortion rate has also been steadily dropping since the early 1990s.

    • Mike

      So we're happy that we aren't killing as many blobs of goo as we used to? I don't get it.

      • David Nickol

        Father Barron's point seemed to me that regard for human life (and he includes the unborn as human life) has been diminishing and will continue to do so. If that were the case, then murders, violent crime, and abortions should be increasing. It doesn't make any difference what my personal view of abortion is. Father Barron regards it as the taking of human life. His assertions about a growing disregard for human life are not backed by any evidence.

        Also note that I have argued the case that early in pregnancy, the embryo or fetus is not a human being except if the Catholic Church is right and human beings have immortal souls. It is not at all clear to me that the concept has any meaning, but I don't pretend to know. I would say that even if there is no God and no immortal soul, an embryo is not merely a "blob of goo." It is a potential human life, and not without value. It would just not have the value as a human life—i.e., a human person.

        • Mike

          i would say that a human sperm and egg have the potential for human being but after they meet there is a new human being created...but alas we've been down this road before.

          • David Nickol

            Yes, we've been down the road many times, so you should know the response, which is that "human being" may be an accurate designation for a zygote or embryo, but "human being" doesn't necessarily mean "human person" or "person with fundamental human rights."

          • Mike

            i'd say it has the right not be killed directly on purpose...the rest we can quibble about.

          • Darren

            Mike wrote,

            i'd say it has the right not be killed directly on purpose...the rest we can quibble about.

            That makes you pretty angry at your god for killing 8 out of every 10 of them, right?

          • Mike

            hey it's another protestant rebelling against his minister who's never heard of augustine/aristotle/aquinas and secondary causation hee hee.

            welcome btw Darren.

    • fergalf

      david, there are some serious confounding problems here. 1) Demographic changes. The US today is older and older populations are likely to kill or commit any violent crime. 2) vast healthcare improvements. Murder is literally harder to commit today then in 1950 as medicine is hugely superior, we have more doctors and people live nearer good hospitals. people die less following shootings.

      • David Nickol

        First, I would say that based on Father Barron's article, it would be reasonable, at least at first glance, to assume murder and violent crime should be increasing. In all fairness, he didn't say that (because he did not actually present any compelling evidence of the increase in the effects of declining religiosity) but we do know there has been a steady increase. Note the following:

        The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

        In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

        I don't pretend to be an expert on the decline of violent crime and murders (and, I would add, abortions) in the United States, but I do know there are many, many different theories and that there is no consensus. Given that fact, I think it would be basically impossible to list all possible factors (demographics, policing techniques, economics, decline in religious affiliation) and assign a weight to each. So I think it would be possible, for example, to say what you said, and then to adjust for the factors you mentioned and conclude that nevertheless, decline in religious affiliation and practice would—if it were not for the factors you mention—account for a decrease in "human dignity."

        In short, I would say that Father Barron barely made an attempt to build a case to support his contentions, and I don't think he really could. But you are certainly right that any decent analysis would have to consider a great many variables.

        • fergalf

          Fr Barron was not specific as we can't specifically say what the effect is. Its very hard to measure or verify but I am sure being bombarded with an absolute ethical code everyday or once a week (i.e. many theistic religions) is bound to make a difference in how someone lives their lives, especially if non religious people live by a 'if it doesn't hurt anyone its not wrong' code of conduct.

          • David Nickol

            Well, Father Barron did say the following:

            But I would like to explore a deeper issue that these videos bring to light, namely, the forgetfulness of the dignity of the human being that is on ever clearer display in our Western culture. One has only to consider the over 58,000,000 abortions that have taken place, under full protection of the law, in our country since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the ever more insistent push toward permitting euthanasia, even of children in some European countries, or the wanton killing going on nightly in the streets of our major cities. The figures in my home town of Chicago typically surpass those recorded in the battle grounds of the Middle East.

            Regarding the abortion rate, it has been falling since the early 1990s. If you take a look at Chicago murder (and other violent crime) statistics, they are all lower than they were in the early 2000s.

            I think it is misleading to talk of "euthanasia" when what is really meant in almost all cases is assisted suicide.

          • fergalf

            The point is, he is not taking a point in history which we can use comparatively and say murder has increased since that year. In addition Barron is slamming irreligiousness but this not was invented in the 1970s. Whether murder is increasing vs decreasing is very controversial and I really have not made up my mind. Euthanasia and assisted suicide go hand in hand as unrequested euthanasia of the very sick is commonplace in many countries.

          • William Davis

            Euthanasia and assisted suicide go hand in hand as unrequested euthanasia of the very sick is commonplace in many countries.

            Citation please. I do not believe euthanasia occurs in any modern country. The murder rate decreasing is not controversial. You might find localized pockets where the murder rate increased but it has decreased by country and globally, especially over the last 30 years. These statistics can be pulled from a variety of reliable sources.

          • fergalf

            Euthanasia of newborns has been acknowledged in the Netherlands. Technically legal but its done openly without prosecution under the Groningen Protocol. You also have euthanasia of the old in the Netherlands. Active killing not removal of feeding tubes, deliberate “pain relieving” overdoses or turning off life support machines. Its hard to quantify how common this is but its probably about 0.5% and 1%. of all deaths in the Netherlands. Ezekiel Emanuel used this figure but the % is irrelevant. Even one is grossly wrong.

          • William Davis

            You said

            Euthanasia and assisted suicide go hand in hand as unrequested euthanasia of the very sick is commonplace in many countries.

            This was false.

            The law allows medical review board to suspend prosecution of doctors who performed euthanasia when each of the following conditions is fulfilled:

            the patient's suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement

            the patient's request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist over time (the request cannot be granted when under the influence of others, psychological illness or drugs)

            the patient must be fully aware of his/her condition, prospects and options

            there must be consultation with at least one other independent doctor who needs to confirm the conditions mentioned above

            the death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion by the doctor or patient, and the doctor must be present

            the patient is at least 12 years old (patients between 12 and 16 years of age require the consent of their parents)

            The doctor must also report the cause of death to the municipal coroner in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Burial and Cremation Act. A regional review committee assesses whether a case of termination of life on request or assisted suicide complies with the due care criteria. Depending on its findings, the case will either be closed or, if the conditions are not met, brought to the attention of the Public Prosecutor. Finally, the legislation offers an explicit recognition of the validity of a written declaration of will of the patient regarding euthanasia (a "euthanasia directive"). Such declarations can be used when a patient is in a coma or otherwise unable to state if they wish to be euthanized.

            Euthanasia remains a criminal offense in cases not meeting the law's specific conditions, with the exception of several situations that are not subject to the restrictions of the law at all, because they are considered normal medical practice:

            stopping or not starting a medically useless (futile) treatment

            stopping or not starting a treatment at the patient's request

            speeding up death as a side-effect of treatment necessary for alleviating serious suffering

            Euthanasia of children under the age of 12 remains technically illegal; however, Dr. Eduard Verhagen has documented several cases and, together with colleagues and prosecutors, has developed a protocol to be followed in those cases. Prosecutors will refrain from pressing charges if this Groningen Protocol is followed.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_in_the_Netherlands

            Lying to further your agenda, or simply being misled. Repeating untruths is morally wrong. The Catholic Church seems more than willing to lie to further it's agenda. Many of the books of the New Testament (especially the pastorals and 2 Peter) were almost certainly forged (I can quote Catholic sources, they call it pseudoepigraphy). The Catholic Church has no credibility because it lies. This is the kind of crap I was talking about. Credibility is extremely important.

          • fergalf

            You ignored my evidence and then you quote wikipedia. jesus**** christ

          • William Davis

            You provided no evidence or links, only claims. I provided wikipedia which is well sourced. It's evidence.

            Exodus 20:7 ""You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

            Are you really a Christian?

          • William Davis

            Have you read the criteria for infant euthanasia in the Netherlands?

            http://www.government.nl/issues/euthanasia/euthanasia-and-newborn-infants

            Where is this "involuntary" coming from?

            Have you every watched someone die slowly of a terminal disease? I have, twice. If, at the end, that person wanted to put out of their absolute misery (they are going to die anyway), who the heck are you and the Church to say otherwise. Your lack of compassion is monstrous and evil in my opinion. I find it a moral obligation to minimize the influence of people like you guys for the good of everyone. The feeling is so strong and it feels so righteous to say it, how can it be anything other than the Holy Spirit if such a thing exists. Isn't God the source of our conscience? If you've never had the experiences I've had, how can you have an opinion? What burns me is lies coming from the "fullness of Truth" to deny mercy to the suffering. Despicable and downright evil. (Yes, I'm pissed, this is bringing back memories).

          • fergalf

            You have been shown to be misinformed and you deny there it is forced even though these kids can't talk and abundant academic studies have shown it occurs.

            Even if its asked for there is no compassion in assisted suicide. Its giving into depression a mental illness, its abandoning someone to death. There is nothing dignified about it and no one of sound mind chooses it. Its brought on by despair and inner pain that warps judgement..

          • David Nickol

            no one of sound mind chooses it

            I think it would be very difficult—in fact, impossible—to substantiate this. I think you would probably classify anyone who chooses suicide (assisted or not) as being of unsound mind. But that is just your opinion.

            Who can say that someone with a fatal disease who is undergoing tremendous suffering is of unsound mind to choose to end his or her own life? Even if you have a firm conviction that suicide is morally wrong, that does not mean that others do. So someone in intractable pain with no hope of recovery and no moral objection to suicide can certainly be "of sound mind" and choose assisted suicide.

            Personally, I would rather see legislation that anyone anyone who is terminally ill and suffering should be guaranteed medical care that will alleviate their suffering, even if that means heavy use of painkillers or medically induced coma. No one should have to make a choice between dying in prolonged agony and committing suicide.

          • William Davis

            Personally, I would rather see legislation that anyone anyone who is terminally ill and suffering should be guaranteed medical care that will alleviate their suffering, even if that means heavy use of painkillers or medically induced coma.

            I like the idea of induced coma, but I know from experience that painkillers, even at high doses, do not work well on someone dying from cancer. If I'm ever in that terrible situation again, I'll ask about the coma. If that's illegal then that's something to lobby about and is a good compromise instead of euthanasia.
            Personally, I'd choose euthanasia at the end to save my family medical expense, assuming insurance didn't cover everything (which it likely won't). As a materialist, being in a coma a week before you actually die is identical to being dead. It's all the same from my point of view.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Even if its asked for there is no compassion in assisted suicide. Its giving into depression a mental illness, its abandoning someone to death. There is nothing dignified about it and no one of sound mind chooses it. Its brought on by despair and inner pain that warps judgement.."

            Why should an atheist so sure of certain and final death not run from it as best she could? Why was my Catholic friend's mother hysterical about dying?

            The first has nothing to fear from it but see that death brings value to life, brings fresh eyes to replace our faded ones and continue our great mutual adventuring and discovery, gifting our children the best seat in the house, now, as we were once gifted.

            Why was the mother hysterical (for most of her last year)? She wasn't sure she'd escape hell. It was a lottery and she wasn't feeling lucky or adequate.

            My dad taught me the first thing, by his life-long actions and underlined through his last weeks in hospital. He wiped away my fear of dying by having me seek to play a little part in our astonishing mutual adventure (even if I only brought soup, I would contribute.)

            His last week was just hideous beyond telling. He asked me to help him die, but just then, I couldn't. In retrospect this is possibly the thing I most regret. Amongst my artistic friends we talk of living our lives as poetry, weaving the good and the bad in a way that best throws the both into valued relief. The greatest poetry is only available to those certain of total loss. We should remain authors to our end.

          • William Davis

            You're just wrong. I watched my mother in law and aunt die of cancer. Slowly, painfully, in misery. The last few days she was delusional and would awaken screaming only to fall back out. She had said a few weeks before that she didn't want anyone watching her die, but she wasn't allowed any options even here in the U.S.
            Did you not read what I posted? Even the Netherlands does not allow assisted suicide due to mental illness. They have to be in misery and there must be no prospect for improvement. Are you so sure you're right you're not even paying attention to what I'm writing? Again, this is what makes me angry, when fools think they know better than everyone else and try to shove their "truth" down other people's throats.
            Giving the option, I wouldn't want my family to have the memory of me dying like my mother in law did. I, in sound mind, would volunteer to end it to save the burden on my family and the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars of care. I would do it for the greater good of us all. You are talking to someone who has had a lot of terrible experience and time to think about these things. Even my Christian parents sort of agree, though they have the traditional problem with suicide due to their religion. I don't think you have a clue.

          • David Nickol

            Do you think all 196 countries in the world should allow the euthanizing of infants and not merely the three who do now (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg)?

          • William Davis

            I think assisted suicide should be allowed for those in misery. I'm skeptical of euthanizing infants, but I have experience with situation that makes me wonder. Some friends of the family had an infant with a genetic protein disease. It suffered for weeks and eventually died by what amounts to suffocating. Is it moral to watch that happen? I think it should be up to the family in those cases. No country allows the infanticide of healthy children, the criteria were very explicit.
            What burns me up is people with no experience with this telling everyone else what they should and shouldn't be doing. Guess that's my thing for liberty.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I wonder about these pieces that say we need to believe in God in order to value human life...

    I have no desire to kill, to steal, to torture. In fact I find these reprehensible. I donate blood, and money to help others in need. It seems that I value human life. As an atheist, what am I doing wrong?

    • "I wonder about these pieces that say we need to believe in God in order to value human life..."

      Is that really what Fr. Barron said? If so, where? Or have you subtly but significantly misunderstood his argument?

      You've fallen into a very common misunderstanding that many atheists make: confusing *belief* in God with God's existence when considering the question of moral ontology. Of course your *belief* in God doesn't change whether humans have innate value. But whether God exists *does* affect that reality.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        It is possible that I misunderstood, but I got it mostly from these parts:

        In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights.

        I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless.

        He seems to be saying that human rights and dignity can only be grounded in God. Thus, if someone does not accept that, they have no grounding for human rights/dignity. Fr. Barron continued saying that other non-God systems of morality (ie the type an atheist must have) "are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind" and can lead to Nazi death camps.

        If I misunderstood, I would love to be corrected. But I would not be surprised if others understood it my way as well.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        I'll reply to this comment again, since you edited your second paragraph in after I wrote my reply (or perhaps during). I like to try to keep comment threads in order.

        Of course your *belief* in God doesn't change whether humans have innate value.

        Sure, but wouldn't it change whether I *believe* that humans have innate value? Presumably, since I don't believe in God, I have no reason to believe that humans have value. And yet I do. I must be a bad atheist.

        • Mike

          I've seen your comments above and mean the following in genuine conversation, and intrigue. Where does the principle that all human beings have innate value come from?

          To me as a Catholic I'd say due to humanity "Being made in the image and likeness of God"

          Where do you find the grounding for innate human value?

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            It is a good question. As a member of the human species, I tend to care for other members of my species. Humans are capable of great intelligence and of creating wonderful things. I think that gives them value and dignity.

            I'm sure you could find objections to that answer (which I am also typing up in a hurry.... busy weekend). But similarly there are objections to your answer. How does being made in the image of God therefore give dignity to humans as well? It seems a bit of a God of the gaps argument... the question of human dignity and morality s a tough one, and its not clear how saying "God" solves it. You may say that God is good therefore humans in his image hve diginity, but even this depends on the assumtion that the creator God is good".. something that even some early Christians (Marcionites and gnostics) did not agree to.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Being made in the image of God of course comes from Sacred Scripture. It is interpreted by Christians as meaning being like God. So some ways we are thought to be like God is that like God we are persons (rather than things) with reason, free will, and the ability to be in loving communion with other persons, including God. We also add to this the doctrines at God has saved us from sin and death and sanctifies us with the intention that he will divinize us with our cooperation so we can enjoy eternal happiness. These are some of the reasons the Catholic Church proclaims that every human being has inherent dignity.

            Take away this and what is the basis of inherent dignity and inalienable rights?

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Thanks. I agree that if you believe doctrine A and scripture B, and use interpretation C, then you can come to the conclusion that humans have dignity... as long as you accept A, B, and C- all of which have been fiercely debated and not unambiguously true.

            My main point is that there are other A's, B's, and C's that do not involve gods that can similarly lead to human dignity. Yes, they are similarly debated and not unambiguously true. It is far from an answered question. So I would not be so quick to say that only through a belief in a (Christian) god can we reach the conclusion that humans have dignity.

          • Mike

            Hi OverlappingMagisteria,

            Thank you for your response. I'm not necessarily interested in a theological debate about the correctness of our groundings for intrinsic human dignity. Personally I was just interested in hearing your perspective. Note:I'm going to assume that when you said "humans are capable of great intelligence and creating wonderful things" you were referring to humanity collectively and not individual humans, which would imply that individuals of little (or no) intelligence or creativity are of no value. I don't think this was your intention, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt instead of playing "gotcha" until you clarify your intention was to communicate something else.

            Furthermore, we have found some common ground between us, and I would prefer to start with the values we share as opposed to leading with what differentiates us.

            Would you mind if I imposed another question on you? What would you consider to be the rights given to every person (i.e. human rights)? Particularly the ones that are due to our intrinsic value. As before I'm curious more than I'm looking for a heated debate.

          • Tom

            Hi OverlappingMagisteria,

            Thank you for your response. I'm not necessarily interested in a theological debate about the correctness of our groundings for intrinsic human dignity. Personally I was just interested in hearing your perspective. Note:I'm going to assume that when you said "humans are capable of great intelligence and creating wonderful things" you were referring to humanity collectively and not individual humans, which would imply that individuals of little (or no) intelligence or creativity are of no value. I don't think this was your intention, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt instead of playing "gotcha" until you clarify your intention was to communicate something else.

            Furthermore, we have found some common ground between us, and I would prefer to start with the values we share as opposed to leading with what differentiates us.

            Would you mind if I imposed another question on you? What would you consider to be the rights given to every person (i.e. human rights)? Particularly the ones that are due to our intrinsic value. As before I'm curious more than I'm looking for a heated debate.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          No, only that you are a child of a culture that marinated in Christian thinking for a thousand years. For everyone in that marinade, the answers are already "in the back of the book." That's why Nietzsche complained that everything in the Modern world was contaminated by Christianity, including atheism -- and especially Anglophone atheism ("the English flatheads").

          So atheist thinkers like Voltaire, Sartre, Nietzsche, Rorty, et al. agonized over the matter, generally concluding that attempts at an objective morality are merely smuggling theology in through the back door. (Nietzsche looked forward to junking "slave morality", but the others were troubled in greater or lesser degree.) St. Paul, otoh, had no problem, since he contended that the law was "written in the heart" even of those "without the Law." It's what he called "conscience," which has formed the basis of Western law.

          So your belief that humans have innate value might elicit a frown from Singer and derision from Nietzsche, would get a nod of "Of course you do" from Paul of Tarsus.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Interesting to learn that throughout most of history Native Americans, Asians, and.. well anyone living in the BCs where were not in the Christian marinade did not believe that humans have value. I'm sure that would be news to them

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Certainly as regards the Snake People and other un-men. (Many tribes had names for themselves that meant "the Men" or "the Real Men" while their names for other tribes were things like "Snake People" or "the Enemy.") Imagine that you are a Susquehannock who has fallen into the hands of the Onondaga.

            Don't forget the Buddhist marinade in other regions. And of course Islam arose within its own Christian marinade of the Syriac churches. The muslims regard all muslims as being of value, though infidels are beyond the pale.

            Remember we were speaking of atheists and others in the West and however admirable the Eightfold Path may be, you have not grown up in an ex-Buddhist milieu, but in an ex-Christian milieu. See Nietzsche for details.

          • Mila

            "And of course Islam arose within its own Christian marinade of the Syriac churches. "
            This is very interesting. Can you elaborate a little more this statement?
            I always thought that there was a lot of friction between the Syriac Churches and the Muslims who conquered them.
            Are you suggesting that Islam is really a heresy that arose from the Syriac Churches?

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Don't forget the Buddhist marinade in other regions.

            Thank you. As before, you missed my point, but here you ended up making it for me, though perhaps not on purpose.

            My point is that belief in a god is not necessary in order to value humans (as Fr. Barron seems to indicate). Buddhism is non-theistic. You seem to agree then that Buddhism can lead one to value humans despite its lack of belief in god.

          • VicqRuiz

            Well, yes. This is the question of utility versus the question of truth. Demonstrating the validity of the first does not demonstrate the validity of the second.

    • It sounds like you are doing a lot of things that are very right and that is to be commended.

      In regards to your comment, I think the question is very much "Who or what is a human being?" Most of the people you see on the streets would qualify as "human beings," but many of the people on the fringes of society or those who are essentially invisible to society (e.g., those still inside the womb, those terminally ill, etc.) might not make the cut according to a particular person/society's definition or might not make the cut in the future depending upon what route a particular legal system takes.

  • Agreed.

    Once one starts to eliminate God from the equation of human rights, then you are left with essentially human characteristics, human emotions, empathy, etc. as the guiding force as to what a human being is or is not and who gets human rights and who doesn't. The unfortunate reality is that once you go down this route there will always be biological human beings who do not meet the essential characteristics of humanity according to a particular definition, and at times there might be animals that are not biologically human but could potentially meet the definition.

    Comments from the recent Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v. Stanely (a case arguing for human rights to be given to chimpanzees) illustrates some of these points:

    "The similarities between chimpanzees and humans inspire the empathy felt for a beloved pet. Efforts to extend legal rights to chimpanzees are thus understandable; some day they may even succeed. Courts, however, are slow to embrace change, and occasionally seem reluctant to engage in broader, more inclusive interpretations of law, if only to the modest extent of affording them greater consideration. As Justice Kennedy aptly observed in Lawrence v. Texas, albeit in a different context, 'times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.'"

    While this opinion ruled against those who wanted human rights to be given to chimpanzees, it is not a very comforting opinion for those who do not believe it ever should be given. The opinion essentially says that it's not out of the question that human rights might be given someday and the reason we might not be giving chimpanzees human rights is that we are blind to a truth that might be evident to later generations.

    And from the NYT:
    "And while she said such definitions could evolve, she also said her decision was bound by a 2014 state appellate court decision finding that chimps were not legal people because of 'a chimpanzee’s inability to take on duties or responsibilities' of adult humans (such as voting, jury duty or paying rent)."

    And one gets the sense from this paragraph that humanity is correlated with the ability to do something, but there are many human beings who do to physical or mental issues can't do things that many other humans can do...

    It can be hoped that first world countries won't go down a Peter Singer "esq" path towards human rights, but it does appear that the legal and philosophical arguments to go down such a path are becoming greater.

  • David Nickol

    For me, the most bone-chilling moment was when one of the kindly physicians, informed that the price she was asking was too low, leered and said, “Oh good, because I’d like a Lamborghini.”

    After watching two versions of the hidden-camera videos discussed by Fr. Barron above, I think the Lamborghini remark is actually irrelevant to the whole controversy. What is under discussions is the possibility of legally donating fetal tissue from an abortion (with the written consent of the mother) to medical researchers. The "compensation" discussed is to cover the cost of any extra work done by the abortion provider in processing, preserving, and shipping the tissue. Such tissue cannot legally be bought and sold. However, those who donate the tissue may request a reasonable fee for any extra costs they incur to make the donation.

    Dr. Mary Gatter, the Planned Parenthood official involved, is clearly not trying to "maximize profits" from the sale of fetal tissue. She makes clear that "we are not in it for the money." She names a figure of $75 per specimen, which those trying to trap her insist most emphatically is "too low." She does not commit to a price in the video but instead asks fake businesspeople to send her a written proposal. She says she "has not discussed compensation in years" and that she will ask around to find out what other affiliates are charging for tissue donations, and if what they are discussing is low compared to to other affiliates, they can discuss raising it.

    Now, I realize there are people who are horrified that abortions are performed at all, and doubly horrified that fetal tissue from abortions is used in medical research, but what we seen in the video is hardly an example of a greedy Planned Parenthood official trying to amass enough money to live a life of luxury. It was purely a joke—perhaps a joke in poor taste, but nevertheless a joke. The fees under discussion were to cover costs of providing samples, not to make a profit.

    Note the following from Factcheck.org:

    We also asked experts in the use of human tissue for research about the potential for profit. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s “biorepository,” told us that “there’s no way there’s a profit at that price.” She continued in an email:

    Sawyer, July 20: In reality, $30-100 probably constitutes a loss for [Planned Parenthood]. The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures (ones no longer needed for clinical purposes, and without identity) for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block. In the realm of tissues for research $30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.

    • materetmagistra

      @David Nickol: "The 'compensation' discussed is to cover the cost of any extra work done by the abortion provider in processing, preserving, and shipping the tissue....However, those who donate the tissue may request a reasonable fee for any extra costs they incur to make the donation."

      But, David, she uses no words to that effect - "our cost would be..." - "the costs to us...." - "the extra effort by our staff would cost..." - "how much would you ask our staff to do..." - "the cost to ship, store, etc."

      Instead, she wants to know how much other centers are "getting." If they are getting substantially more than $75-100 per specimen, she wants to up her price. That, David, is language of "profit." Someone who needs to cover her costs does not "negotiate."

      • David Nickol

        Instead, she wants to know how much other centers are "getting." If they are getting substantially more than $75-100 per specimen, she wants to up her price. That, David, is language of "profit." Someone who needs to cover her costs does not "negotiate."

        Then there's an easy solution here. If the other Planned Parenthood affiliates who accept compensation for providing fetal tissue are charging in such a way as to make a profit, criminally indict them, since they are violating the law. Dr. Mary Gatter makes it quite clear to all at the table that Planned Parenthood is not legally permitted to sell fetal tissue, but only permitted to charge a reasonable fee for the extra work involved in providing it. When the fake medical company making the video cross the line in offering more than that, Dr. Mary Gatter warns them away from it.

        It is no simple matter to place a cost on something like providing fetal tissue. I could give examples of the kind of problems one my run into from an entirely different field (data storage and retrieval), but it would no doubt bore everyone to tears. The only rational thing to do is make your own estimates, check around to see what others doing the same kind of work ask for similar services, and go with that.

        If Dr. Gatter was greedy, why in the world did she open with a suggested figure of $75 (acknowledging she had almost said $50) only to have the buyer insist that was much too low and offer to pay more? I can tell you when you are a supplier in negotiations with a buyer, it is unheard of for the buyer to say to the supplier, "Your price is too low. We insist on paying more!"

        As I have pointed out, all Dr. Gatter is interested in is compensation in line with what other Planned Parenthood affiliates are requesting. Unless all the other affiliates are greedily demanding compensation to profit from actually selling, rather than donating, tissue, then Dr. Gatter is making a perfectly reasonable request. And as I suggested, if the other affiliates are actually "selling" rather than "donating," they can be prosecuted.

        By the way, if you watch the entire video, you will see that Dr. Gatter never commits to anything. She says she must go back and discuss all matters with the affiliate's surgeon. She strikes no deal with the fake company. She asks them to submit a proposal of a few paragraphs and says they will take it from there.

        • materetmagistra

          @"When the fake medical company making the video cross the line in offering more than that, Dr. Mary Gatter warns them away from it."

          Sure. Telling the buyers that she will see what the other clinics are "getting" and then adjust accordingly...especially since she'd like a Lamborghini....really seems like she doesn't want to "get" more.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You realize the Lamborghini statement was a joke? An unoriginal one at that.

          • materetmagistra

            A very telling one......

          • Mike

            You think that joking about killing tiny babies is cool?

            Lemme guess you want that dentist who killed that lion hanged right? all in the name of atheism! oh the brights!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You think that joking about killing tiny babies is cool?

            The joke may have been in poor taste, but it was a joke. The religious right is pretending like it is a serious statement. They are pretending like Dr. Gatter plans on selling as much fetal tissue as possible at the highest margin possible, in order to buy a Lamborghini. When she actually does not make any money on the fetal tissue, because planned parenthood donates the tissue and only charges for service costs.

            Lemme guess you want that dentist who killed that lion hanged right? all in the name of atheism! oooh the brights!

            Ummm no. If he did poach a lion, he should pay a heavy fine, but I wouldn't advocate for a cruel and unusual punishment. I leave that to God.

          • David Nickol

            Sure. Telling the buyers that she will see what the other clinics are "getting" and then adjust accordingly...especially since she'd like a Lamborghini....really seems like she doesn't want to "get" more.

            Note that when Dr. Gatter was asked what she would expect in compensation, she said $75. It was the representative of the fake company that said the compensation should be higher. In real business deals, it is the seller, not the buyer who seeks the higher price.

            I find it odd that people like you and Father Barron fixate on the Lamborghini remark. The reason why it was humorous was that it was so wildly inconsistent with the small amount of money that would have changed hands should the fake company been real and the arrangements with Planned Parenthood have been realized.

            I think it is incumbent on you, if you wish to keep accusing Planned Parenthood and Dr. Gatter of acting illegally and greedily attempting to profit from tissue donation, to establish that the $100 fee mentioned is unreasonable. If you can establish that, then your accusations are credible.

          • materetmagistra

            Ah, but selling aborted fetal tissue is hardly the only problem Planned Parenthood faces. I think more incriminating is the fact that the Planned Parenthood people admit to changing timing, method, and procedures used in the abortions in order to focus on tissue collection. That happens to be illegal. Not to mention the problem Ms. Nucatola has with her rationalizing her "intent" concerning partial-birth abortion.

          • materetmagistra
          • Mike

            I find it odd that you think that joking about killing tiny babies is cool...gruesome business...you're lucky it didn't happen to you!

          • David Nickol

            I am at least glad you figured out that the remark about the Lamborghini was a joke. So many others (including Father Barron) seem to believe it was meant seriously.

            My only comment about the joke itself was the following: " It was purely a joke—perhaps a joke in poor taste, but nevertheless a joke." I never defended the joke, let alone called it "cool." I merely pointed out that is was a joke.

            I wouldn't call it a joke about "killing tiny babies." I wouldn't even call it a joke about abortion. But my whole point has been that it is foolish to fixate on the Lamborghini remark and try to demonize the doctor who said it.

  • Ignatius Reilly

    I am sure by now that many of you have seen the appalling hidden-camera videos of two Planned Parenthood physicians bantering cheerfully with interlocutors posing as prospective buyers of the body parts of aborted infants.

    Yes, I have seen the selectively edited smear campaign propagated by a seemingly dishonest, but certainly a far right extremist group.

    For me, the most bone-chilling moment was when one of the kindly physicians, informed that the price she was asking was too low, leered and said, “Oh good, because I’d like a Lamborghini.”

    I would not have described her facial expression as a leer. It was clearly a joke, and anyone who thinks otherwise has not had much experience in the business world.

    But I would like to explore a deeper issue that these videos bring to light, namely, the forgetfulness of the dignity of the human being that is on ever clearer display in our Western culture.

    I really don't think this is true. In many ways we are more compassionate than ever before.

    One has only to consider the over 58,000,000 abortions that have taken place, under full protection of the law, in our country since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the ever more insistent push toward permitting euthanasia, even of children in some European countries, or the wanton killing going on nightly in the streets of our major cities. The figures in my home town of Chicago typically surpass those recorded in the battle grounds of the Middle East.

    In the United States the murder rate has been in decline. Chicago has also declined in the past couple of years.

    What makes this sort of startling violence against human beings possible, I would submit, is the attenuation of our sense of God’s existence.

    Then why have more Christian times been equally violent? Great amounts of violence are possible when most of civilization believes that God exists. In some ways, believing Christian can treat life more cavalierly than their atheist counterparts who do not believe in an afterlife. Kill them all. God will know his own.

    In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights.

    Perhaps, but you need a lot more presuppositions than the existence of a creator and an afterlife.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Kill them all. God will know his own.

      There is no evidence that this was ever said. It was recounted by Caesarius of Heisterbach in a collection of fables. He was nowhere near the siege of Beziers, either in space or time, and reported only that Arnold "is said to have replied..." Regine Pernoud pointed out that this anecdote has not received credence from historians for a long time, but that popular culture has not yet caught up.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Regardless, it is a sentiment that can only be found in those with religious faith.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Not really. Massacres have been carried out by all sorts. When the Communists starved the Ukraine into submission, there were doubtless those who cautioned that there were true red communists among the Ukrainians, but "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs," as Comrade Lazar Kaganovitch, then Stalin's fair-haired boy, once said.

          • William Davis

            Are you saying the communists thought "God would know his own"? If not, you missed the point again.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Oh, you meant the rhetoric and not the actual act of killing the innocent along with the guilty because it is easier than doing the sorting operation. I had forgotten the contemporary focus on words rather than deeds; though I had thought that more Post-Modern than Late-Modern.

          • William Davis

            Perhaps it's a focus on motivation which words give a clue about. Motivation will be important as long as man walks the earth, categorize it however you will.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Motivations are notoriously difficult to discern, even from spoken words and especially from written words. Lukacs comments on this in one of his books on historiography. Somewhere, iirc, in The Remembered Past. And that is even when the words are honestly spoken!

          • William Davis

            I agree, though we should still do our best to discern them. Often we delude ourselves without even realizing it, and the most important part of honesty is being honest with yourself. Even when we try to be honest with ourselves we tend to rationalize things anyway unless we are very careful, and that requires high energy thinking and a certain level of self doubt which feels bad to people unless they learn to embrace it as an important part of their thinking.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Did the Communists believe that good communists would go to heaven? I don't think so. Only the religious think that God can fix their mistakes and atrocities. Atheists know that we are completely responsible for our errors.

            Communism shares quite a bit with religion, so it is not surprising that they would use such justifications.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Communism shares quite a bit with religion

            Lots of things "share quite a bit" with lots of others things. That seems to let you off the hook with using actual definitions.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Both ideologies (Christianity and Communism) think they are on a mission of the utmost importance. A mission greater than any passing temporal concern. The Communists want utopia on earth, while the Christians want it in heaven.

            A fixation on one all-important goal can of course lead to ends justifying the means and human rights abuses.

            Edit: spacing & extra letter

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Except that one explicitly teaches that the ends do not justify the means, so anyone doing so is actually going against what they claim to profess.

            It is extremely important to preach the religion-equivalency of communism in order to obscure the plain historical fact that communism was an atheistic ideology that ruthlessly persecuted the religions that fell within their grasp. So one suspects that there just may have been an important difference that Lenin, Stalin, Honnecker, et al. grasped that now eludes the Late Modern.

            But then, too, a friend of mine who was raised Dutch Reformed told me once that Dawkins reminded him of a Calvinist preacher; so there is also some truth to the matter that people wish to put themselves in the service of a higher power. See Midgley, Evolution as a Religion. for details. But notice that this is grounded not in some the reification of some grand, immaterial sky abstraction like "religion" or "communism" or "atheism," but in the psychology of actual material human beings.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            There is a difference between an ideology teaching something and the adherents actually following the teaching. While the Church may explicitly teach that the ends do not justify the means that does not mean that there is not an institutional tendency to justify the means with ends. The communists did not perfectly follow Marxist dictates.

            Religion is a dogmatic ideology and communism is a dogmatic ideology. They have much in common.

            So one suspects that there just may have been an important difference that Lenin, Stalin, Honnecker, et al. grasped that now eludes the Late Modern.

            And what is that important difference?

            But then, too, a friend of mine who was raised Dutch Reformed told me once that Dawkins reminded him of a Calvinist preacher; so there is also some truth to the matter that people wish to put themselves in the service of a higher power.

            Perhaps, it is an easy source of meaning. That does not mean that is isn't a huge mistake.

  • David Nickol

    In the totalitarianisms of the last century—marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God—untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.

    According to Wikipedia:

    Vatican City pursued a policy of neutrality during World War II, under the leadership of Pope Pius XII. Although the city of Rome was occupied by Germany from 1943 and the Allies from 1944, Vatican City itself was not occupied.

    Hitler may have been an anti-religious atheist, but Hitler could not have done what he did alone. The vast majority of German citizens (including some high-level Nazi officials) were Protestants and Catholics. What did the churches do under godless Naziism? See The German Churches and the Nazi State

    The general tactic by the leadership of both Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany was caution with respect to protest and compromise with the Nazi state leadership where possible. There was criticism within both churches of Nazi racialized ideology and notions of "Aryanism," and movements emerged in both churches to defend church members who were considered "non-Aryan" under Nazi racial laws (e.g., Jews who had converted). Yet throughout this period there was virtually no public opposition to antisemitism or any readiness by church leaders to publicly oppose the regime on the issues of antisemitism and state-sanctioned violence against the Jews. There were individual Catholics and Protestants who spoke out on behalf of Jews, and small groups within both churches that became involved in rescue and resistance activities (for example, the White Rose and Herman Maas).

    Meanwhile, what are some of the major threats to the world today? First, the United States is deeply involved in negotiations trying to prevent Iran—a theocracy—from developing a nuclear bomb. Has anyone heard of ISIS? Another theocracy. Who is slaughtering Christians in the Middle East and Africa? Atheists?

    • David Nickol

      P.S. Who stabbed 6 people in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade?

      In the midst of Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade on Thursday, a "religious" Jew stabbed six people. The assailant was apprehended and it quickly became clear that he had committed an almost identical crime before going to prison for ten years, only to be released last month; free to vent his blood thirsty hatred again.

    • Very good points.

      Some things I've said before to others within previous comments...

      -Any ideology-religious, philosophical, moral, etc.-can lead to violence given the right or wrong circumstances.

      -Lack of education makes it easier to manipulate individuals, and when you combine lack of education, desperation, plus a very power hungry political/philosophical/religious movement, you have the recipe for some pretty bad things to happen.

      -I would argue that it is very hard to pin particular atrocities on atheists the way atrocities can be pinned on religious per se, because atheism by definition is a lack of belief in a higher power (I'm sure some might have more detailed definitions than that, but that is the gist). For example, there have been many many human rights violations (murders, torture, etc.) performed by the Chinese government against those living in Tibet. The Chinese government is an atheistic government and a very sizable percentage of the Chinese population are atheists. Although the government is very atheistic and a large percentage of the population is atheistic, I doubt most would say many of the atrocities committed in Tibet are due to atheism. They would be due to the political ideology of the government, not atheism. That's the thing. When the blame game of "What caused these people to do this" goes around, the blame usually goes to what is believed and practiced, not to what is not believed. One can argue that lack of belief can lead to certain actions, but that is much more abstract. Beliefs in and of themselves whether they be religious, political, philosophical, etc. can lead to violence and the thing is all typically functioning human beings are going to have those.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Vatican City pursued a policy of neutrality during World War II, under
      the leadership of Pope Pius XII. Although the city of Rome was occupied
      by Germany from 1943 and the Allies from 1944, Vatican City itself was
      not occupied.

      You evidently feel that this is very significant. Indeed, it is, since it provided a refuge and a conduit for many.

  • David Hardy

    Having seen the video, the comment about the car appears to be gallows humor. It is rather common in the medical field, as a protection against burnout. Aside from this, the source of the videos seems biased, trying to elicit a greedy reaction, but I do not see such a reaction. The use of organs from infants already aborted, especially to expand medical knowledge that could help others, seems to depend on the view that abortion is unethical. Without that foundation, it does not add an unethical element, barring additional illegal qualities, though I am certain those who view abortion as inherently wrong would say it is an aggravating factor, by profiting off the immoral act.

    I would point to sentience, the ability to feel emotion, as a foundation for ethical behavior, albeit not the only one. I would challenge anyone to identify a human unable to feel, apart from early fetuses. Even people in comas who appear unresponsive have awoken later and reported feelings during the apparently vegetative state. Thus, this provides a foundation for ethical conduct towards humans (and other animals) that does not depend on the assumption of God, nor a quality that is not always present. I would also add sapience, where it is present, as an added consideration. Although, if someone cannot think, I do not know how it is an issue if ethical consideration is not given to their thoughts.

  • David Nickol

    It's rather fascinating that Christian apologists are intent on convincing atheists who believe they should be moral even thought they do not believe in God that they are wrong to believe in morality, and if they want to be logically consistent, they should be liars, cheaters, rapists, and murderers!

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      No, the only point is the one raised by Sartre, Nietzsche, and other atheists: viz., how (or whether) one can ground morality in atheism. Whether that can piggy back on the past of the culture is obvious.

  • Doug Shaver

    Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested.

    It's probably good for the rest of us that people who regard that as a good argument are not themselves atheists.

    • materetmagistra

      Are human beings equally endowed with basic rights according to your worldview? How do you know?

      • Doug Shaver

        I don't think of morality in terms of rights. I think of it in terms of obligations.

        • materetmagistra

          Doug, if it is part of our human nature that we have these "obligations," wouldn't we also have "rights" such that we can accomplish said "obligations"?

          • Doug Shaver

            I said nothing about human nature. Since you mention it, though, I would suggest that our obligations are a derivative of our nature, not a part of it.

            wouldn't we also have "rights" such that we can accomplish said "obligations"?

            Moral obligation presumes ability, not rights. If I'm unable to do something, then I can't be obligated to do it. If I am able to do it and am obligated to it, then I must do it and my rights are irrelevant.

          • materetmagistra

            @Doug Shaver: "I would suggest that our obligations are a derivative of our nature, not a part of it."

            Explain. What is the difference? Is this "obligation" not actually infused into our very being, our very nature?

            @Doug Shaver: "Moral obligation presumes ability, not rights....then I must do it..."

            If you must do it then aren't other human beings obligated to allow you to do it? In effect, this obligation to recognize your duty and allow you to do it is what becomes your right.

          • Doug Shaver

            Is this "obligation" not actually infused into our very being, our very nature?

            Not being an Aristotelian, I don't see why.

            If you must do it then aren't other human beings obligated to allow you to do it?

            Maybe. Maybe not. I have never given that any thought, because I cannot see, off the top of my head, what difference it would make to what I'm obligated to do. I have quite enough philosophical work trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do. I don't have time for anyone else's ethical problems unless they ask me for my opinion.

          • materetmagistra

            @dougshaver:disqus: "I have quite enough philosophical work trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do."

            And, once you figure out what your conscience obligates you to do, what course of action would you take (would you be obligated to take) should your government or fellow citizen prevent your action?

            @"Not being an Aristotelian, I don't see why."

            That the will cannot be forced to will what it does not will......is this not infused into human reason? Or, do you think somehow added to our reason at some point in our development?

          • Doug Shaver

            what course of action would you take (would you be obligated to take) should your government or fellow citizen prevent your action?

            That depends on what you're calling prevention. If they can render me actually incapable of doing the right thing, then I lose the obligation until the restraint is lifted. But if they're just threatening me with unpleasant consequences that I will suffer after doing the right thing, then the situation gets complicated. There can be no simple answer that will fit all situations of that sort.

          • materetmagistra

            @Doug Shaver: "If they can render me actually incapable of doing the right thing, then I lose the obligation until the restraint is lifted. "

            Seems to me this would justify the actions of Nazi guards in Auschwitz.

            Again, what do you mean by "obligation"?

          • Doug Shaver

            Seems to me this would justify the actions of Nazi guards in Auschwitz.

            If so, then you and I don't mean the same thing by "incapable." If I am given an order and would be punished for disobeying it, I am still capable of disobeying the order. If it is an order to do evil, then I should disobey it and accept the consequences, provided I am the only one who will suffer any consequences.

          • materetmagistra

            If they can render me actually incapable of doing the right thing, then I lose the obligation until the restraint is lifted.

            So, then the obligation remains. You simply are not culpable for not fulfilling it, and those others become culpable for preventing you from fulfillinf an obligation.

            Quite possibly you and I are working from different ideas of moral "obligation." An obligation is a moral end that must be attained - a necessary duty. One's conscience can know what is right in a given situation even though one may be currently unable to perform it. It is what ought to be performed, and could be performed should the exterior force of prevention be removed.

          • Doug Shaver

            So, then the obligation remains. You simply are not culpable for not fulfilling it

            That's another way of looking at it, but most philosophers accept as axiomatic the principle that "ought implies can," because it seems vacuous, to say that we ought to do something when we cannot do it. I would concede that there might be exceptional situations where it would make sense to say, "Yes, I ought to do that, but I cannot do it," but to allow it as a general possibility seems incoherent to me. Morality is about choices, and so where choice is not possible, morality is irrelevant.

          • materetmagistra

            But, even if you are "prevented" from performing the "ought," you can still reason the correct action, the "ought," eh? Therefore, it has not disappeared.

          • Doug Shaver

            Reason must consider all relevant facts. That would include the fact that I am prevented from doing that which I would otherwise be obligated to so.

          • materetmagistra

            Yup - you are able to identify (to reason) that which you "ought" to be allowed to do. Thank you.

          • Doug Shaver

            That the will cannot be forced to will what it does not will......is this not infused into human reason?

            I don't even know what it means.

          • materetmagistra

            What do you mean then by "obligation"?

          • Doug Shaver

            Obligations are the subject of ethical philosophy.

          • materetmagistra

            And, what do you know about that subject - about moral obligation?

          • Doug Shaver

            In your epistemology, probably nothing.

  • David Nickol

    About four years ago there was a major debate among Catholic ethicists over whether lying was always immoral. It was sparked by the hidden-camera videos a group called Live Action created and publicized in an effort to expose what they considered to be wrongdoing within Planned Parenthood. Anyone interested can check out this post by Edward Feser, in which he provides less-than-definitive answers, but most helpfully links to the posts of the major participants in the debate.

    It seems to me that the so-called Center for Medical Progress (responsible for the current videos) not only lied to arrange for the meeting with Planned Parenthood officials and lied to them throughout the videos, but also invented a false narrative (money-hungry Planned Parenthood "haggled" over the price of baby parts) that has been bought by many in the news media and by Father Barron in the above piece.

    By the way, the photo illustrating the OP is not a frame from the video Father Barron discusses. The photo is from the initial video released by the Center for Medical Progress in which Dr. Debora Nucatola of Planned Parenthood was surreptitiously filmed. The OP is about a subsequently released surreptitiously recorded video in which Dr. Mary Gatter of Planned Parenthood is featured.

    • David Nickol

      For me, the most bone-chilling moment was when one of the kindly physicians, informed that the price she was asking was too low, leered and said, “Oh good, because I’d like a Lamborghini.”

      Actually, if you watch the short version of the video (including subtitles) at the very end, she says, "I want a Lambourghini. . . I said I want a Lambourghini."

      • Ignatius Reilly

        I would be interested to know if anyone else besides Father Barron detects a "leer."

        I did not. She seemed somewhat uncomfortable most of the time. I'm not sure if that is due to the camera placement or maybe due to the "buyer's" insistence on discussing compensation. I would love to see an unedited video of the conversation. I would love to see a camera turned on the "buyer".

        • materetmagistra

          First- the unedited version is at the end of this article: http://www.lifenews.com/2015/07/21/second-shock-video-catches-another-top-planned-parenthood-doctor-selling-body-parts-of-aborted-babies/

          Second- personal take on how one would classify Ms. Gatter's look is such a red-herring, don't you think? That she obviously intends to "get the going price" for aborted baby organs is what is key.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think you need to take a look at the factchecker link, which David Nickol provided.

            http://www.factcheck.org/2015/07/unspinning-the-planned-parenthood-video/

            Barron's take on Ms. Gatter's facial expression is just another distortion added to the distortions of The Center for Medical Progress. She obviously intended to make sure her costs of storage and processing were adequately covered. The "journalists" drove that conversation. It is obvious from the video that Ms. Gatter has very little experience with compensation for fetal tissue. Apparently, she is not making a fortune from the selling of fetal tissue.

          • materetmagistra

            Much conjecture on your part, as well as on Fact Check.

            An interesting line in that article - [StemExpress] did release a statement on its website expressing pride in its work to advance research and saying it complies “with all laws.” Quite interesting given that they moved to block certain footage. No one needs to hide that which is on the up-and-up.

            Again, Ms. Gatter uses the terminology of profit - "lowball" ...."see what the other centers are getting."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Again, Ms. Gatter uses the terminology of profit - "lowball" ...."see what the other centers are getting."

            She mentions that she has not discussed compensation in a long time. It was our pseudo journalists who pressed the compensation point. She does not want to sell the fetal tissue at a loss, so we could just as well characterize her statements as the language of breaking even. After watching the unedited video, my take was that she just didn't want to commit to anything, because she does not deal with compensation aspect of tissue donations. In the end, she wanted a written proposal, which she would pass along to a higher up at planned parenthood for approval.

            The clinics volume is not high enough to make any sort of profit on tissue samples.

            I love how the right gets all hyped up over fake scandals, while we actually have serious problems that need to be addressed.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: " She does not want to sell the fetal tissue at a loss...."

            But, that's just it, Ignatius. It is unlawful to sell human fetal tissue.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No it is not. From the factcheck article, which I guess you did not read:

            The video itself highlights a portion of title 42 of the U.S. code, which reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” The law does include fetal tissue in its definitions. It says that the term “valuable consideration” doesn’t include “reasonable payments” for removal, transportation, preservation and other associated costs.

          • David Nickol

            That she obviously intends to "get the going price" for aborted baby organs is what is key.

            Once again, if "the going price" is a profit-making figure, then all those who "get the going price" can be prosecuted for illegally selling fetal tissue. Why didn't The Center for Medical Progress take their information to law enforcement and demand prosecutions for selling fetal tissue? It seems to me the clear answer is that Planned Parenthood affiliates who provide fetal tissue to medical researchers are fully in compliance with existing laws and request only reasonable compensation for the costs they incur.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Lying is always wrong does not seem less than definitive.

      • David Nickol

        Lying is always wrong does not seem less than definitive.

        Is knowingly telling a deliberate falsehood with the intent to deceive always a lie?

        As you may remember, the first edition of the Catechism said, "To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth." That was changed in the second edition to, "To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error."

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          It is always wrong. Sometimes it is the lesser wrong. One may often speak equivocally, evade, change the subject, answer a question with a question, etc. Otherwise, the neural pathways involved with speaking will be at odds with other neural pathways involved in memory or sensation, which can harm one's ability for rational thought.

  • Alexandra

    Every child is a gift.
    May we one day live in a world where every child is loved and protected by both the mother and father that brought life to them.

    Only when parents truly love their children, and place their child's needs above their own, then will these horrible atrocities cease.

    May we not be blind to the needs of these children. They are not garbage. They are not specimens.

    • Phil Rimmer

      The apocalyptic tragedy of an additional 7+ billion "gifts" to the continent of Africa, netting a population growth of 400% over the next 80 years (1bn to 4bn) is a gift of unprecedented (conscious, lived!) horror for which the RCC can take most of the credit. ABC and not AB would be a real gift in these circumstances.

      I'm on (good, Catholic) Melinda Gates's side here. Catholics are better than their church so often.

      • Alexandra

        It's an upside down world when babies ripped from the womb are specimens, black children are not gifts , and abortion is seen as a good.

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Responsible reproduction is a great good. Fostering extreme poverty is not.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "Responsible reproduction is a great good."

            Agreed.

            But, once one has "reproduced," a new human being exists, a human being with human rights. That is what Father Barron addresses in this piece - human beings that already exist.

            @Ignatius: "Fostering extreme poverty is not [a great good.]"

            Agreed.

            But, killing the poor is likewise "not a great good."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So, if you believe that responsible reproduction is a great good, are you in favor of condoms and other methods of contraception. I believe that was the thrust of phil's point vis a vis Africa.

            But, once one has "reproduced," a new human being exists, a human being with human rights. That is what Father Barron addresses in this piece - human beings that already exist

            An embryo does not have human rights. Fr. Barron uses a distortion of facts propagated by an extremist group doing shoddy journalism, as a launching point for a diatribe on impossibility of morality without God. A diatribe, which begins with several false premises.

            But, killing the poor is likewise not a great good.

            Which nobody is advocating. We are advocating responsible reproduction so the poor can get out of poverty.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "So, if you believe that responsible reproduction is a great good, are you in favor of condoms and other methods of contraception."

            What methods one would use in promoting responsible parenthood is a discussion for another time. Determining what is owed to the human being that is already having existence is the focus here.

            @Ignatius: "An embryo does not have human rights."

            Why would a human embryo - which is a biological human being - not have "human rights"??

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What methods one would use in promoting responsible parenthood is a discussion for another time. Determining what is owed to the human being that is already having existence is the focus here.

            Not at all. In the original article Barron continues in a dishonest smear against planned parenthood, while claiming that absolute morality can only be grounded in God. He does not demonstrate his claim.

            In Phil's comment, which is the beginning of this particular thread, he is clearly referencing birth control. So, this has nothing to do with abortion. It is you who are changing the subject.

            Why would a human embryo - which is a biological human being - not have "human rights"??

            This has been explained to you countless times by many different posters on this site. I have no desire to explain it to you again. Maybe someone else will.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "...while claiming that absolute morality can only be grounded in God."

            Actually, Father Barron says: "When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern." He is making the claim that human dignity is grounded in God. If you claim human dignity can be grounded in something else, what would that be? Or, quite possibly you do not even believe human beings have this quality: dignity.

            @Ignatius: "This has been explained to you countless times by many different posters on this site. I have no desire to explain it to you again. Maybe someone else will."

            So, you, yourself cannot tell me why a human embryo - which is a biological human being - would not have "human rights"?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Actually, Father Barron says: "When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern." He is making the claim that human dignity is grounded in God. If you claim human dignity can be grounded in something else, what would that be? Or, quite possibly you do not even believe human beings have this quality: dignity.

            I'm curious how human dignity is grounded in God. Claiming it does not make it true.

            So, you, yourself cannot tell me why a human embryo - which is a biological human being - would not have "human rights"?

            I have explained it to you before. More than once. I'm not interested in going down that path again.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "I have explained it to you before. More than once. I'm not interested in going down that path again."

            But, you did just write: "Claiming it does not make it true."

            You see, your claiming, "An embryo does not have human rights," does notmake it true, according to your own workings. I'm simply "curious" as to why a human embryo - which is a biological human being - would not have "human rights."

            Regarding Father Barron's claim - he explains that in his third paragraph.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            But, you did just write: "Claiming it does not make it true."

            You see, your claiming, "An embryo does not have human rights," does notmake it true, according to your own workings. I'm simply "curious" as to why a human embryo - which is a biological human being - would not have "human rights."

            I have gone into it in detail in other threads. As I remember from past discussions, you are quite fond of ignoring nuance while shouting assertions. I don't care to get involved in such discussions.

            Regarding Father Barron's claim - he explains that in his third paragraph.

            This is not an explanation. It is also incorrect.

            What makes this sort of startling violence against human beings possible, I would submit, is the attenuation of our sense of God’s existence. In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights. I use Jefferson’s language from the Declaration of Independence on purpose here, for the great founding father knew that the absolute nature of the rights he was describing follows from their derivation from God: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern. For Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato, a cultural elite enjoyed rights, privileges, and dignity, while the vast majority of people were legitimately relegated to inferior status, some even to the condition of slavery. In the totalitarianisms of the last century—marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God—untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.

          • materetmagistra

            Ignatius, you are the one making the claim, I am not. In your claim: "An embryo does not have human rights," what exactly do you mean by "human rights"? Father Barron references "inalienable rights." These rights are given to us [by God]; they are not of our own making. Do you believe humans have such rights, such "human rights"?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Technically, you claimed that embryos have human rights first. That is how we went down this rabbit hole. You have yet to provide evidence for the claim in all of your many posts at SN on abortion.

            An embryo does not have the right to life or the right to exist in the womb. This is what I meant when I said that embryos do not have human rights.

            How does God give us rights?

          • William Davis

            Discussing abortion with mater...one of the great joys in life ;)

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "How does God give us rights?"

            We do not need to know the workings of God in order to recognize the Rights he has endowed us with, the Rights our Founding Fathers refer to as self-evident Truths. We can recognize the existence of these rights through human reason.

            @Ignatius: "An embryo does not have the right to life or the right to exist in the womb. This is what I meant when I said that embryos do not have human rights."

            Does an embryo bring himself into existence? If not, who is responsible for the existence of the embryo? How did the embryo become in the place where we find him? Did he himself put himself there? Certainly the embryo is. I ask, what exactly is the embryo having being within the body of his mother? Is it not a biological human being? If not, what is it?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            We do not need to know the workings of God in order to recognize the Rights he has endowed us with, the Rights our Founding Fathers refer to as self-evident Truths. We can recognize the existence of these rights through human reason.

            If we can recognize these rights through the use of reason, perhaps it would be beneficial if you would show your reasoning. Right now you are just waving hands.

            Does an embryo bring himself into existence? If not, who is responsible for the existence of the embryo? How did the embryo become in the place where we find him? Did he himself put himself there? Certainly the embryo is. I ask, what exactly is the embryo having being within the body of his mother? Is it not a biological human being? If not, what is it?

            Is there a point to all of these questions?

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "Is there a point to all of these questions?"

            Consider them questions to help you "show your reasoning."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I have explained my reasoning in detail to you in other threads. I am still waiting for you to show me yours, in regards to God given inalienable rights.

          • materetmagistra

            Our country operates under that philosophy ["God given inalienable rights"]. Do you think the Founding Fathers were wrong? It is a basic premise, one that I believe is true. If you think it is not true, you are free to prove it mistaken. But, be careful - you undo your "God-given Rights" when you do so.

            Let's look at your basic premise(s) - "An embryo does not have the right to life or the right to exist in the womb."

            I think that it is false - let's unpack your claim.

            What is this "right to life" that a human embryo does not have? And, who specifically has it? And, how do you know that?

            What is a human "embryo"?

            Is the embryo responsible for his being or existence within the womb of his mother?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Our country operates under that philosophy ["God given inalienable rights"]. Do you think the Founding Fathers were wrong? It is a basic premise, one that I believe is true. If you think it is not true, you are free to prove it mistaken. But, be careful - you undo your "God-given Rights" when you do so

            You should really study some logic. I am not under an obligation to prove your premises are mistaken. You just shifted the burden of proof.

            Our country is founded on a godless constitution, which enumerates certain rights.

            I do not see how rights are grounded in God. I can think of other groundings for human rights, but the God angle seems unlikely, especially since I do not think that he exists. It is not enough for you to say that you believe the founding fathers are correct. You should also muster some sort of argument as to why they are correct. So you still have yet to ground your claim.

            It would be analogous to me saying that embryos do not have a right to life, because that's what the ancient romans thought. Do you care to disprove the premise of the ancient romans?

            What is this "right to life" that a human embryo does not have?

            I'm not sure why I would want to waste a bunch of time explaining all of this to you again.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "Our country is founded on a godless constitution, which enumerates certain rights."

            Tsk. Tsk. Our country's foundational document is the Declaration of Independence.

            And, enumerating rights is not the same as granting rights. After all, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Where did "people" get these "rights" to "retain"??

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Where did "people" get these "rights" to "retain"??

            You are supposed to be explaining your reasoning as to how God gave us rights and we know that he gave them to us. You are the one making that claim that we have God-given universal rights. Please demonstrate.

          • materetmagistra

            The Founding Fathers answer that for you: "....endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...."

            God made man in his image - and endowed him with rights.

            You ask "how" we can know this. The Founding Fathers also answer that question - by virtue of our human reason - "We hold these truths to be self-evident." We do not need to understand how god works his "endowing" in order to recognize we have been "endowed."

          • David Nickol

            It is beyond absurd to try to retroactively enlist the Founding Fathers in the pro-life movement.

            It is not even clear that "all men are created equal" was considered by the Founding Fathers to also apply to women! And it certainly did not refer either to zygotes or fetuses. Under our system of law (going back hundreds of years into British law), the fetus was not a person, and abortion was not homicide. Abortion may have been criminalized, but it was not murder.

            A minority of pro-lifers believe that the word person in the 14th Amendment ( . . . "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws") could be applied to the unborn to end abortion in the United States. The problem is, not even an ultraconservative justice such as Scalia buys the argument. Neither the Founders nor the authors of the 14th Amendment considered the word person to apply to the unborn.

          • materetmagistra

            @David Nickol: "It is beyond absurd to try to retroactively enlist the Founding Fathers in the pro-life movement."

            Is it likewise "absurd" when you do the very same thing - enlist the opinions of others?

            @DN:"..it certainly did not refer either to zygotes or fetuses....the fetus was not a person....going back hundreds of years..."

            Scientific knowledge and tools certainly were not available to them, "hundreds of years ago." But nowadays, we have full knowledge of what precisely a human zygote or a human fetus is. Are you suggesting we not use the knowledge "modern science" provides?

          • David Nickol

            Are you suggesting we not use the knowledge "modern science" provides?

            Science doesn't answer the question of whether a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a person with rights. It's a philosophical question.

            Your argument seems to be that if the Founding Fathers understood modern medicine, they would have intended "all men" to refer to the unborn. There is absolutely no way to demonstrate that, and there are many people today (including embryologists) who simply don't believe a zygote, embryo, or early fetus is a person with rights.

            As I have pointed out, if the word "person" in the 14th Amendment were interpreted to apply to zygotes, embryos, and early fetuses, the Supreme Court could simply rule that abortion is not permissible.

            Now, many people believe that Roe v Wade was wrongly decided, and I might even be persuaded of that myself. But the vast majority of those people believe that Roe was wrongly decided because the Constitution is silent on abortion, and that it is a matter for the states to decide because the Constitution gives no guidance on the issue.

            The argument that abortion should be illegal (or even that abortion is immoral) because of what the Declaration of Independence says about rights is impossible to take seriously. Nobody believes that Jefferson was referring to the unborn, and no serious legal scholar or judge would say we must interpret what Jefferson said in the light of modern science.

            Furthermore, the Supreme Court decides cases based on the Constitution, not on the Declaration of Independence.

          • materetmagistra

            @David Nickol: "Furthermore, the Supreme Court decides cases based on the Constitution, not on the Declaration of Independence."

            The Declaration, though, validates the Constitution. Matter of fact, if the Constitution ever "becomes destructive of these ends [securing inalienable rights], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,..."

            @DN: "Science doesn't answer the question of whether a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a person with rights. It's a philosophical question."

            Indeed. But, science most definitely can verify that the tiny being having existence within the body of its mother happens to be a biological human being, just a very young one.

            Now, on to the philosophical question...who has the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration and why do they have them?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The Founding Fathers answer that for you: "....endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...."

            God made man in his image - and endowed him with rights.

            Can God endow anything with rights, or only things in his image have rights? For instance, could God give trees the unalienable right not to be cut down?

            You ask "how" we can know this. The Founding Fathers also answer that question - by virtue of our human reason - "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

            Saying something is self-evident is nothing but hand waving. If the human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are self-evident rights, why the Greeks realize that these rights are self-evident.

            The Catholic Church would not necessarily agree that we have these rights anyways. According to the Church, I cannot pursue happiness by wearing a condom, eating meat on Fridays in lent, getting drunk, exploring other belief systems, or following my own philosophical system and conscience. According to the Church I am not at liberty to spread "heresy." Nor do I have the right to life. God can take it when he wishes in the cruelest manner if he so wishes. If these rights are self-evident, why aren't the Churches on board? Why aren't they found in Islamic countries?

            Saying that humans have right X, because it is self-evident is not reason. It is handwaving. I could easily say that embryos having no rights is self-evident.

            We do not need to understand how god works his "endowing" in order to recognize we have been "endowed."

            Does God endow things with rights by Divine Fiat, or do things have rights because of properties that they have like autonomy?
            Well, you first need to show that we have been endowed. Then you need to show that it was god who did the endowing. Stop asserting the same thing over and over again and supply some reasoning.

          • Michael Murray

            Is there a point to all of these questions?

            Asking you questions is better than providing answers to your questions. The questioner avoids the risk of saying something false that can be challenged and there is always the chance that you will say something incorrect that they can jump on and declare victory.

          • William Davis

            Actually, Father Barron says: "When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern."

            Sometimes it's really sad how much you guys get wrong. Many ancient civilizations believed the gods required the sacrifice of humans (worshipers of Baal, Carthaginians). One of the oldest creation myths (from which the author's of Genesis drew heavily) said that man was created to till the fields for the gods, and obviously the king who got his authority from the gods. Gods demanded massacres of enemies, and definitely in the Hebrew Bible. So much for human dignity being grounded in God in ancient times. Barron is just completely wrong here, and if he actually knows anything about ancient history (which I doubt) he's straight up lying. Can the best and brightest of the Catholic Church come up with better than just intellectual garbage? How can you possibly expect me to think you have any relation at all to the divine when you insult my intelligence? Surely God is the greatest mind of all, and would do much better.

          • materetmagistra

            @William Davis: "Many ancient civilizations believed the gods required the sacrifice of humans (worshipers of Baal, Carthaginians)."

            Hmm. Seems to support Father Barron, as he is speaking about one specific God - the Judeo/Christian God. Certainly a lack of basic human rights in those civilizations, eh?

          • William Davis

            Barron never says he is speaking about one specific God, but let's roll with that. Note that many religions as old or older than Christianity have moral teachings that are just as good if not better than Christianity, Buddhism is a great example. Have you ever actually read the Bible? I'm deeply familiar with it myself, let's look at it's God.

            Here's sex slavery

            When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

            Human Sacrifice (there are multiple examples, including the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter)

            At the LORD's command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, and he arrived there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to offer a sacrifice. Then at the LORD's command, he shouted, "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you." (1 Kings 13:1-2 NLT)

            He [Josiah] executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem. King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: "You must celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in the Book of the Covenant." There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. This Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem during the eighteenth year of King Josiah's reign. Josiah also exterminated the mediums and psychics, the household gods, and every other kind of idol worship, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to all the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD's Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. (2 Kings 23:20-25 NLT)

            Genocide and mass murder (so many cases I'll just post a link)

            http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=21

            So, what on earth are you guys talking about? Sex slavery, human sacrifice, and mass murder/genocide are examples of valuing the dignity of the human person?

          • VicqRuiz

            Aw come on, William.

            You know very well that this stuff is in the so-called "dark passages" of the OT, which Catholics have re-shelved in the fiction section because it conflicts with what they "know" about the goodness of God from all the happy passages.

          • William Davis

            Willful ignorance seems to required to avoid some serious cognitive dissonance...

          • Mike

            Kill it before it grows! Kill it before it grows.

            You're lucking YOU weren't killed before you grew...have you ever stopped to consider that?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Kill it before it grows! Kill it before it grows.

            We are talking about contraception not abortion.

            You're lucking YOU weren't killed before you grew...have you ever stopped to consider that?

            It wouldn't matter to me. I would never have been aware that I did not exist. Besides I am a pessimist.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Its an upside down world when seemingly concerned about harms the RCC preach latex phobia to the vulnerable.

          Abortion is the least good solver of problems. Unhappiness is often the result. The RCC is part of the problem here too.

          The "black" babies smear is contemptible.

          • Alexandra

            Are the "vulnerable" the black children you say shouldn't be brought into the world?

          • Alexandra

            The second two of your sentences did not appear on my disqus- which changes your argument. It was an error on my part and you can ignore my other comments. You brought up Africans and it seems like you want to limit their population. Why you are singling them out- I don't know.. It's off topic, considering the context of our discussion and not something I am interested in discussing further.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Africans in general are the vulnerable, badly parasitised by religious ideas that see family planning as evil. All other populations are reversing or will reverse by 2050. Africa by contrast because of thinking like that perpetrated by the RCC will not stop until its population has quadrupled from today's value. Already they are beyond the capacity of the continent to feed themselves.

            This will be a humanitarian disaster of spectacular scale, with real conscious suffering for all, because of callous ideological positions taken by the religious and particularly the RCC.

            I am very sure you don't want to discuss it further.

          • Alexandra

            >" I am very sure you don't want to discuss it further."

            Yes. Because it's off topic. Suggesting otherwise is putting words in mouth.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Its super pertinent. Fr. Barron cannot claim the moral high ground on this as he does given his part in the problem taking family planning away from the vulnerable. It is women who are harmed first, driven to desperation and abortion. It is a whole continent that will consequently suffer. I find the RCC position disgraceful. Thank goodness most Catholics have nothing to do with it in developed countries. It is the less developed that are most biddable and harmed.

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "...given his part in the problem taking family planning away from the vulnerable."

            Father Barron, as with any Catholic, holds "responsible procreation" as a particular obligation of those who would engage in the procreative act. Howver, killing already exisiting human beings is not a moral choice regarding "responsible procreation." "Responsible procreation" means you prevent a human being from coming into existence in the first place.

          • Phil Rimmer

            So we can look forward to ABC teaching in Africa at the very least. I am hugely relieved. ABC teaching elsewhere, especially to the religious, would reduce their appalling record for abortions. (The US abortion rate for protestant women is 15 per 1,000 women, while Catholic women have a slightly higher rate, 22 per 1,000)

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "So we can look forward to ABC teaching in Africa at the very least."

            If the "birth control" involves killing already existing human beings, then it is not moral.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Strawman to your hearts content.

          • Doug Shaver

            If the "birth control" involves killing already existing human beings, then it is not moral.

            I'll stipulate that for the sake of discussion.

            Now, what do you say about the morality of birth control methods that do not involve killing already existing human beings?

          • materetmagistra

            Indeed - in addition to the immorality of "birth control" that involves killing already existing human beings, other methods of "birth control" can be immoral. Legitimate "birth control" involves both a "subjectively good intention and an objectively good means, or method."

          • Phil Rimmer

            "other methods of "birth control" can be immoral."

            Well that blessed relief was short lived...

          • Doug Shaver

            Legitimate "birth control" involves both a "subjectively good intention and an objectively good means, or method."

            Just for the sake of this discussion, let's define pregnancy as the condition of any woman who has a fertilized ovum. Now assume that the intention of birth control is to prevent pregnancy. Do you have a moral problem with birth control so defined?

          • materetmagistra

            Doug - condoms are not a licit choice for reasons that do not have to do with immoral killing. Their illicitness has to do with the intent to thwart the inherent unity of the unitive/procreative act. More completely thought out words than mine [from the Catechism of the Catholic Church]:

            2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

            When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156

            2369 "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."157

            2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:159

            Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160

          • Doug Shaver

            Doug - condoms are not a licit choice for reasons that do not have to do with immoral killing.

            I didn't ask about condoms or any other particular method. I asked for your opinion about the morality of preventing pregnancy.

            More completely thought out words than mine [from the Catechism of the Catholic Church]:

            So, your opinion is just the church's opinion. But it has to be, if you're a member of the church, am I correct?

          • materetmagistra

            @Doug Shaver: "So, your opinion is just the church's opinion. But it has to be, if you're a member of the church, am I correct?"

            Two students sit in my class, and answer the test question correctly - they understand some truth. But, what can you conclude about the fact that they answer in the same way? That one student is assenting to the ideas of the other (maybe, if one knows or trusts the other usually has the right answer....), or more likely (since my students tend to not resort to 'cheating') that both simply see the right answer..... Is it possible, too, that the same answer can be expressed in different ways, but still point to the same truth? That I chose to quote the Catechism, the most concise explanation for many ideas, is a cop out, yes, but I trust the source, and I feel I could not improve on the explanations contained therein.

            Besides, how foolish it would be to belong to a Church that one thought expressed ideas and truths that were not true. I can recognize and reason and conclude on my own that the Catholic Church holds as true that which I believe - - so, yes, my Church and I are of one mind.

            Regarding the "morality" of preventing pregnancy...depends on "why" you are doing it AND "how" you do it.

          • Doug Shaver

            Two students sit in my class, and answer the test question correctly - they understand some truth. But, what can you conclude about the fact that they answer in the same way?

            That depends on whether I have reason to believe that one of them copied from the other.

            my students tend to not resort to 'cheating'

            Good for them. But you did copy your answer from the cathechism.

            That I chose to quote the Catechism, the most concise explanation for many ideas, is a cop out, yes, but I trust the source, and I feel I could not improve on the explanations contained therein.

            I asked you for your opinion, not an explanation. If you had wanted to be concise, you could have responded, "My opinion is the church's opinion."

            Regarding the "morality" of preventing pregnancy...depends on "why" you are doing it AND "how" you do it.

            Let's talk about the whys. Is not wanting a child, or not wanting any additional children, a morally acceptable reason?

          • materetmagistra

            That depends on whether I have reason to believe that one of them copied from the other.

            Why would one copy? Is there only one rerason or several?

            Good for them. But you did copy your answer from the cathechism.

            I do explain why. So, you are no longer wondering?

            If you had wanted to be concise, you could have responded, "My opinion is the church's opinion."

            Really? And you (and other readers here) actually know what the Church teaching is? No, I cannot believe answering as so would be adequate. The risk is quite high that y'all would simply rely on your "perceptions" of Church teaching. This way, it's all out there - the accurate teaching of the Church.

            Is not wanting a child, or not wanting any additional children, a morally acceptable reason?

            I can't say without knowing why you do not want a child.

          • Doug Shaver

            I can't say without knowing why you do not want a child.

            So now you're moving the goal posts. I asked you about the morality of preventing pregnancy, and you said it depended on the reasons for doing so. I gave you a reason, and now you're saying I need a good reason for that reason. How long will this continue?

          • materetmagistra

            I gave you a reason.

            I went back and looked for one. I'm sorry, I'm not seeing what you claim you mentioned.

            Did you read this that I posted above? - - - > 2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.

            So, yes, indeed, a married couple may morally choose to delay having children. But, the reasons for delaying having a child need to be just. Thus, my question to you - Why are you not wanting to have a child?

          • Doug Shaver

            I gave you a reason.

            I went back and looked for one.

            The subject is the morality of taking certain actions to prevent pregnancy. You said that the morality of those actions depended on the reasons for taking them, among other considerations. I suggested that a reason for taking those actions would be to avoid having children.

            a married couple may morally choose to delay having children. But, the reasons for delaying having a child need to be just.

            That is where I have a problem with the church's reasoning. I don't accept the premise that anyone needs a justification for not having children. I believe that in the modern world, a decision to avoid having children is prima facie morally acceptable. Instead, it is the decision to have a child that requires justification.

          • materetmagistra

            That is where I have a problem with the church's reasoning. I don't accept the premise that anyone needs a justification for not having children.

            Of course no one needs a "justification" for not having children. Infertile couples have not sinned. Unmarried persons without children have not sinned. It is not wrong to "not have children."

            Matter of fact, some married couples delay childbearing through the knowledge of fertility - commonly called Natural Family Planning. If they want to avoid conceiving children they simply avoid sex on those days the woman is fertile. They do risk unity when doing this - so here is where the Church proposes soul-searching. Is this being done for a selfish reason, or a just reason?

            Now, what you are mostly speaking about, though, is thwarting the procreative act itself by some human action. Choosing to engage in the unitive/procreative act but not accepting one or the other (the unitive or the procreative) end of the act and actively thwarting the end is immoral. Thus, the Church acknowledges "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.

          • Doug Shaver

            Now, what you are mostly speaking about, though, is thwarting the procreative act itself by some human action.

            The act to which you refer was, through most of human history, potentially procreative. Modern science has discovered reliable methods for rendering it unprocreative. The church objects to the use of those methods. I disagree with the church's objections.

          • materetmagistra

            The act to which you refer was, through most of human history, potentially procreative.

            The act is at its core a "reproductive act." That has not changed. The body itself continues physically and physiologically working toward that one goal - creating offspring. That a child be produced is the end of the act, but all the other steps remain even if the end is not achieved.

            Modern science has discovered reliable methods for rendering it unprocreative.

            Breaking a link in a chain does not mean you have changed the fundamental body processes. You have simply blocked the natural order of the body's operation. The body still operates as if it is reproducing, even if the end is not achieved. I can't cover my eyes and say, "Look! My eyes are no longer organs of sight!" They are simply organs of sight that are prevented from their end, that being sight.

            The act of sexual intercourse/ the conjugal union is a unitive/procreative act. Using contraception merely interferes with the end of the act, it does not change the processes the body is going through. The body is working toward procreation during this act.

          • Phil Rimmer

            The whole of evolution has proceeded by the act of co-opting what is to hand to solve new selective pressures. The rotary propelling cillia developed as sensory organs first, before being bodged into being a good enough outboard motor.

            You are talking as if you support Intelligent Design.

            Evolution is still proceeding. Besides, even as an IDer you may be jumping the gun on what the end plan is.

          • materetmagistra

            Evolution is still proceeding.

            Obviously the unitive/procreative act (sexual intercourse) hasn't yet morphed (or evolved) into something with a different purpose/end, or the masses wouldn't need that "birth control," eh? And, should over-use of contraception co-opt procreation, evolution (at least for humans) will be a moot point, won't it?

            You are talking as if you support Intelligent Design.

            Not sure what you mean by "Intelligent Design." I was simply refering to the objective natural order evident in the human body.

            But, that does raise a question - How does the existence of a mechanism such as natural selection prove God does not exist?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Most unfamiliar with evolution think that if a new feature (or species!) evolves from an earlier feature, the earlier feature must necessarily disappear. This is not the case. We evolved from apes and there are still apes. Skulls evolved from teeth (as protective plates) but there are still teeth.

            75% of all Bonobo sexual activity is unrelated to reproduction and as primatologist, Frans de Waals suggests serves the function of creating more placid groups.

            Not only is homosexual activity a part of the make of 1500 or so animal species, but anal intercourse is an observed behaviour amongst several mammal species. Bisexuality is common.

            As with all evolved artifacts these are discovered uses that solve problems and relieve selective pressures.

            Hairy mammals evolved C-Tactile afferent nerves (their only job is pleasure and stimulation of oxytocin) to encourage bonding, peace and mutuality with nursing mothers and their suckling young. This primary kin detector and bond maker works way beyond kin and as we ascend the ladder of increasing socially skilled mammals its reach of co-opting as-if-kin is increased.

            Genes manufacture proteins in sequence and don't map a body per se. We are indirectly manufactured by genes to a very wide tolerance (it is a major source of richness in a modern society with a division of labour) and a richness of mental and sexual dispositions are the result. A society that can exploit these varied capabilities and mitigate their harms will flourish most.

            Homosexual dispositions hounded as disordered, thwarted (in a loving way!) will remain covert, opportunistic and a source of misery. Encouraging mutuality and long term bonding (what most of us want), creates good models of loving nurturing relationships.

            None of this is any argument for whether God exists. It is an argument that based on evidence can we say what a God might have planned? The Catholic Church view of God's design and purpose is as infantile as mine that the world was meant to be like it was for me at the age of six. My experiences then have formed nearly all my expectations of social groupings and behaviours. It has taken me decades to learn that around the planet we can do things differently and sometimes very successfully elsehow.

          • materetmagistra

            75% of all Bonobo sexual activity is unrelated to reproduction and as primatologist, Frans de Waals suggests serves the function of creating more placid groups.

            But, we are specifically speaking about the act of sexual intercourse itself, as opposed to the behavioral adaptations which surround it. The behavior can adapt, the reproductive system itself operatives rather irrespective of behavior.

            A society that can exploit these varied capabilities and mitigate their harms will flourish most.

            Hmm. Seems weird that type of "flourishing" hasn't quite "flourished" given man's long history. Quite possibly human civilization's flourishing began in earnest once man spent less time and energy on animalistic urgings?

            Encouraging mutuality and long term bonding (what most of us want), creates good models of loving nurturing relationships.

            Yes, friendship and community are vital to human civilization. But, using our bodies in ways that cause damage (both physical and emotional) cannot lead to true flourishing nor true happiness.

          • Phil Rimmer

            We are talking about the purposes that animals put sexual gratification to and the evolution of sexual reproduction into a variety of new and useful, quite additional, functions.

            Flourishing? Did you not notice my mention of the flourishing wrought by stable and fulfilled gay relationships? Perhaps you didn't catch my piece a few weeks ago on the evolution of Romantic Love (something abhorred, no doubt by the Catholic Church for its "fruitless" indulgence) again binding society into more contented units?

            Of course it leads to flourishing. You, perhaps, prefer fecundity over flourishing.

            Damage? A couple of 60 years old, having sex, are they damaged?

          • materetmagistra

            ...additional....

            'nuf said. The objective purpose and end to sexual intercourse is reproduction.

            Of course it leads to flourishing. You, perhaps, prefer fecundity over flourishing.

            Can't have one without the other, eh?

          • Phil Rimmer

            1.) The initial function of penile insertion was mammalian reproduction. As the cloaca of reptiles and then monotremes evolved into the separate birth canal and rectum (the evolution of two near identical pipes from a single entity) it is curious to note that the number of nerve endings (including C-Tactile afferent nerves) around their openings is about equal in number. So, no, no "end" about it. Not in evolutionary terms.

            For the Intelligent Designer of lofty enough capacity and perspective you may say "objective purpose". Choose which horse you are on. Find, also, if you choose to back Intelligent Designer Horse a reason for the number and disposition of pleasure nerves "down there"

            2.) Indeed. We could not support our children with the stability, calm and safety they need without as many as possible in society having the calm and stability of rewarding intimate relationships of their own. One of your two variants has been tried with miserable consequences. The other variant is a facile non-point.

          • materetmagistra

            For the Intelligent Designer of lofty enough capacity and perspective you may say "objective purpose". Choose which horse you are on.

            [You were the one imagining me on the ID pony.]
            I said precisely what I mean.

            We could not support our children with the stability, calm and safety they need without as many as possible in society having the calm and stability of rewarding intimate relationships of their own.

            What children need (and have a right to) are their own biological mother and father. And, when families are stable, i.e. raise their own children, societies are stable.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I'm sure you wish to appear evolutionist, but "Objective Purpose (singular)" for a clearly moving feast having well moved on from its 200 million BCE starting simplicity (mammalian intromission that is) is only accessible to the IDer. The mammalian knack of evolved wider bonding is perhaps its very particular trick.

            Compatibility with the evidence isn't possible. Decouple humans from mammalian evolution, have them picked out and stripped down to a simpler being and Objective Purpose (singular) is yours for the taking.

            No. Not just reproducing families need to be stable and happy. Choose to look away then.

          • materetmagistra

            No. Not just reproducing families need to be stable and happy. Choose to look away then.

            The imperative word being unless. Unless the natural family unit remains together there will be no stability to society.

            The initial function of penile insertion was mammalian reproduction. As the cloaca of reptiles and then monotremes evolved into the separate birth canal and rectum (the evolution of two near identical pipes from a single entity) it is curious to note that the number of nerve endings (including C-Tactile afferent nerves) around their openings is about equal in number. So, no, no "end" about it.

            First, it would seem that nature is making a statement about separating vaginas and rectums.
            Second, do you or do you not want to consider "objective, essential purpose" or not? The nature of logic doesn't allow both ways.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Unless the natural family unit remains together there will be no stability to society.

            So parochial.

            All the ways we have lived with varieties of units, large and small. The tribes, the krals, the harems (!), the communes and collectives (often religious), the new groupings extended and curtailed. Only the withdrawal of love and attention and sustained and appropriate cultural investment harms children. There is every chance we are getting better and better at our loving investments, the while forming clearer ideas of how children really are harmed.

            Argue "natural" first and "natural must be best", but with evidence. And remember my first question. We're on some evolving adventure at the moment. If God, and using nature as your source evidence only what is ultimately intended?

            nature is making a statement

            Only to you. But what selective hearing. You seem to have chosen to ignore the other "statement" from nature about the equal distribution of those pleasure only nerves and those standard gauged, grippy bits of plumbing.

            This is what you mean by logic?

            Edited. Sentence removed about ID.

          • Doug Shaver

            The act is at its core a "reproductive act."

            It originated as such. That doesn't mean it must always be such.

            The body itself continues physically and physiologically working toward that one goal - creating offspring.

            Our bodies include our minds, which may formulate their own goals. Moral principles can, and sometimes should, override our physical or physiological impulses.

            You have simply blocked the natural order of the body's operation.

            And therefore, what? Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's right.

            Using contraception merely interferes with the end of the act, it does not change the processes the body is going through.

            But it does change some processes. That is how it prevents conception.

          • materetmagistra

            It originated as such. That doesn't mean it must always be such.

            It is such. And, how reasonable is it to think the evolutionary mechanism could possibly select for a different end? If it does, it certainly will have no offspring to pass that mutation to.

            Our bodies include our minds, which may formulate their own goals. Moral principles can, and sometimes should, override our physical or physiological impulses.

            Certainly, we are body and mind. How reasonable to deny the natural order of the body and pretend there is only mind? To boot, procreation is not exactly an "impulse." It is the end of a long line of physical and pysiological workings of an entire body system.

            And therefore, what? Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's right.

            Why resort to equivocation? Not "nature" as in of the physical world, but "nature" as in inherent characteristics or properties that distinguish something. How can the evident natural order not be right? Do you find the properties of Oxygen to be wrong? Do you find the manner in which gravity operates to be wrong? Or, quite possibly you think the processes of digestion, or of renal filtration or of white blood cell differentiation are somehow wrong?? We can objectively recognize and describe the inherent, distinctive, natural, fundamental qualities of things in the natural world. Such it is with the act and process of procreation.

            But it [contraception] does change some processes. That is how it prevents conception.

            What is infertility? Is it not a disorder of the reproductive system?

          • Doug Shaver

            That doesn't mean it must always be such.

            It is such.

            Maybe. But not just because you say so.

            And, how reasonable is it to think the evolutionary mechanism could possibly select for a different end?

            Evolution has no end. It just happens. Evolution selected for our intelligence, which enables us to choose our own ends and find ways to achieve them.

            Certainly, we are body and mind.

            Our minds are what our brains do. The ontological distinction between body and mind is a dogma to which I do not subscribe.

            Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's right.

            Why resort to equivocation? Not "nature" as in of the physical world, but "nature" as in inherent characteristics or properties that distinguish something.

            I'm not equivocating. I use the word only in the first sense. Since I can't read your mind, if you're using it in the second sense, you need to make that clear. But now that you have done that, I can tell you that the second meaning is Aristotelian, and I don't accept that meaning for moral considerations.

            How can the evident natural order not be right?

            The concepts of right and don't apply to anything except human behavior. In my ethical philosophy, our behavior can be judged by nothing except its consequences. A reduction of the human population of this world would be, in my judgment, a good consequence, and a further increase would be a bad one.

            What is infertility? Is it not a disorder of the reproductive system?

            Yes, when it occurs naturally. I don't regard that fact as having any moral implications.

          • materetmagistra

            Maybe. But not just because you say so.

            Of course "not because I say so." I had no role in making things as they are.

            Evolution has no end. It just happens. Evolution selected for our intelligence

            "No end......" yet "it selected". ??

            our behavior can be judged by nothing except its consequences.

            Then, how is it we can sit at our computer and write about "right" and "wrong"?

            Yes [infertility is considered a disorder], when it [infertility] occurs naturally. I don't regard that fact as having any moral implications.

            Things that are out of our control with our body, a disorder we had no part in, certainly we are not culpable [morally] for. However, when we cause the disorder, how are we not culpable? Certainly Jared Lee Loughner is the moral agent culpable for Gabrielle Giffords' brain disorder.

          • Doug Shaver

            Of course "not because I say so."

            Fine. When you have a better reason to offer me, we can talk about it.

            yet "it selected". ??

            That is the conventional terminology, yes.

            our behavior can be judged by nothing except its consequences.

            Then, how is it we can sit at our computer and write about "right" and "wrong"?

            Some of us can do that because we believe some consequences are better than others.

            when we cause the disorder, how are we not culpable?

            We are responsible for the consequences of whatever we do. We can do things that have infertility, either temporary or permanent, as one of their consequences. Infertility is not a bad consequence just because we call it a disorder when it occurs naturally. Whether it is good or bad depends on its own consequences.

          • materetmagistra

            Fine. When you have a better reason to offer me, we can talk about it.

            How it came to be or why it is so, I cannot tell you...I do know it is not that way because I say so, but I can recognize that it is so. For example, I can recognize a natural order to humankind - there are males and there are females. I can recognize that only a one flesh union of these two produces another human being. [And, that the body's physical and chemical processes during said act work toward said end.] Now, it would be ridiculous for me to say this order exists because I say so. Likewise, it would be ridiculous to me to ignore what it is now simply because I have knowledge that things sometimes change.

            Infertility is not a bad consequence just because we call it a disorder when it occurs naturally.

            Ah, but we do recognize infertility as contrary to the natural order. And, causing infertility is to work contrary to the natural order. As such, assuming the order to be a good, one would be acting contrary to the good, thus immorally. To accept that there is an order to the natural world that humans did not create means that one works against order when one purposefully interferes with that order.

          • Michael Murray

            one works against order when one purposefully interferes with that order.

            You need an argument for why that is a bad thing. Every morning I take my blood pressure tablets. I'm trying hard to interfere with the natural order which is working to damage all my internal organs and possibly give me a stroke.

          • materetmagistra

            Your high blood pressure is NOT the normal order. [That's how we identify health problems - they are disorders of the (normal) body functions.] You take the meds to return your body to normal order and functioning.

          • Michael Murray

            Really? Disease, death and decay are not part of the natural order?

          • materetmagistra

            Of course they are part of the natural order of life. But, as to the order of the body operations, we certainly can recognize when things are not functioning as they should be functioning, per the natural order we recognize in a well-functioning body.

          • Michael Murray

            [That's how we identify health problems - they are disorders of the (normal) body functions.]

            That's not how we decide what level of BP to treat. There is no magical "normal BP". We do clinical trials and if a certain treatment regime has a more positive outcome than no treatment regime we deem it to be the correct medical response.

            You take the meds to return your body to normal order and functioning.

            Shame about side-effects then. What you actually do is take the drugs because the side-effects are less annoying than the long term organ damage and possible stroke.

          • Phil Rimmer

            It is totally normal given that he is not living in his natural (intended?) environment. Genes for sodium conservation are less needed than they were.

            Gleiberman11 proposed that natural selection for sodium conservation in the hot, dry savannah climate into which humans first emerged could have resulted in sodium avidity that today is maladaptive.

            Nor does it stop there.

            http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/49/2/260.full

            We are an animal in genetic and cultural flux, living with the consequences. Sadly different aspects of us appear optimised for differing earlier conditions. There is no "home" to go to that fixes it all.

          • Doug Shaver

            Ah, but we do recognize infertility as contrary to the natural order.

            You might recognize that. I do not. I do not recognize even the existence of a natural order as you seem to be using that term. I recognize only nature, which is just everything that actually happens. In that sense of "natural," infertility is as natural as fertility, because nothing contrary to nature is even possible.

          • materetmagistra

            I do not recognize even the existence of a natural order as you seem to be using that term. I recognize only nature, which is just everything that actually happens.

            I guess you never get sick or have health problems or other health disorders, eh?

          • Doug Shaver

            I guess you never get sick or have health problems or other health disorders, eh?

            I don't see how what I said implies anything of the sort.

          • Doug Shaver

            And you (and other readers here) actually know what the Church teaching is?

            When I say something that indicates I don't, you're welcome to correct me.

          • Phil Rimmer

            So the promotion of condoms is in!!!

            Yay!

          • neil_pogi

            so you must love God because he controls population growth by flood, famine, disaster, sick and afflictions, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fire, therapeutic abortions, mutations, landslides, storms, tornadoes, hell fire, etc!

            you sound as if you know morality like a christian

          • Phil Rimmer

            Possibly the most crass thing you have said yet. Why should I promulgate avoidance of suffering be seeing other suffering inflicted?

            My concern is nothing about having a large population. I am not concerned with large populations per se. I think that is why we are unusually creative at the moment. 7bn people mean we have 7 million people of IQ over 150. I'm glad of that. There is though a concept of too many. Plagues and the like are the biblical just deserts, not mine.

          • neil_pogi

            according to atheists, God doesn't exists because of these: flood, famine, disaster, sick and afflictions, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fire, therapeutic abortions, mutations, landslides, storms, tornadoes, hell fire, etc!

            according to God: 'you have said that you are just some 'bag scum of chemicals' then why are you saying that i'm evil? so you know morality than me?'

            'you are just specks of dusts beneath my fingernails' - clash of the titans

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "...badly parasitised by religious ideas that see family planning as evil."

            And, these people haven't been "badly parasited" by European governments, business ventures or their own corrupt governments?

          • And a double Amen!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            What kind of defence is that?

          • materetmagistra

            Phil, you claim: "...badly parasitised by religious ideas that see family planning as evil." But, that is incorrect. The Catholic Church atually teaches "responsible parenthood." However, that responsibility need be performed with legitimate intention and legitimate means.

            Also, you state: "This will be a humanitarian disaster of spectacular scale, with real conscious suffering for all..."
            As if humans intentionally killing other innocent humans is itself not a "humanitarian disaster" of a much more "spectacular [and evil] scale."

          • Phil Rimmer

            No. My billions of conscious sufferers beat your millions of modestly suffering mothers.

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "...because of callous ideological positions taken by the religious and particularly the RCC."

            The particular "ideological position" you rail against holds that every human being holds equal dignity. Such a position obligates certain behavior - one being that taking innocent life is always immoral. You call that callous? Wouldn't "callous" be the "ideological position" that rationalizes murder for the economic beneift of some, in this case the more powerful?

          • Amen!

          • Phil Rimmer

            I rail against the anti family planning position which results in more Catholic women needing and obtaining abortions than Protestant. Like Hitchens I am super keen to see abortions cease to be sought. Contraception and morning after pills will dramatically reduce the harms inflicted on the mother due to oxytocin bonding with the foetus, the real harms of abortion.

            The incapacity of the RCC to choose the lesser evil lest they commit any active evil, leaves them committing significant evil on a regular basis.

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "Like Hitchens I am super keen to see abortions cease to be sought."

            Well, the problem might very well be your abhorrence to the idea that every human being holds equal dignity. Quite possibly if you'd begin to operate with such personal moral principle, you'd influence those Catholic women in your circle to see their unborn son or daughter in a new light.

            Re: "The incapacity of the RCC to choose the lesser evil lest they commit any active evil, leaves them committing significant evil on a regular basis."

            Evil is never a legitimate choice.

            If one is obligated to lessen certain harms to the mother, one certainly must be obligated to lessen harm to her unborn child. Therefore, abortion is an irrational choice.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "your abhorrence to the idea that every human being...."

            You know perfectly well the issue is about when personhood can be said to happen. You are rather obviously stuffing straw into some shirt, to lead us onto safer ground.

            The immoral/amoral insinuations of me make your claim increasingly sleazy and hypocritical.

            Evils are greater and lesser. Grow up. Promote contraception. Surely the untold good it will do is worth the risk to your personal salvation?

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "Evils are greater and lesser."

            Evil is never a moral nor a just choice.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Nothing must risk your own salvation. Compassion can only go so far it seems....

          • materetmagistra

            Relieving someone of a life of poverty or misery by killing them is not compassion. Compassion is treating them with dignity and fairness and respect even though they may be poor. Compassion is working to lift them out of their suffering - such is what your and their equal humanity requires.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Relieving someone of a life of poverty or misery by killing them is not compassion."

            Who am I killing? And how?

          • materetmagistra

            The already conceived African children.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I have no interest in them. What are you talking about?

          • materetmagistra

            But, you do.

            "Contraception and morning after pills........" What Melinda Gates pushes.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Condoms?

          • materetmagistra

            Sorry. The lives of already exisiting human beings are not objects to be bartered. They are not yours to give or take - you have no just authority over them.

            Likewise, the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual union are inseperable in the natural order. That's something humans have no authority to corrupt. Obviously we have the power to personally choose otherwise, to choose disorder ("against order"), but it would not be moral to lead or encourage others to such behavior.

            2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life,"151 teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life."152 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."153

            2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.

          • David Nickol

            Likewise, the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual union are inseperable in the natural order.

            What, exactly, is the "natural order"? Nature shuts off a woman's fertility at menopause. Also, both men and woman are sexually receptive all the time—that is, women do not go into heat and mate only during the time when they are fertile.

          • materetmagistra

            Seems to me that you recognize a good deal of human nature, of the objective "natural order" of the human body.

          • David Nickol

            And yet I am completely baffled by the idea that the "unitive" and "procreative" aspects of sex must both be present in each and every sexual act. And about 95% of sexually active (and fertile) Catholics ignore the teaching.

          • materetmagistra

            Their bodies don't.

          • materetmagistra

            Sorry about not getting back to you earlier on this question.

            I am completely baffled by the idea that the "unitive" and "procreative" aspects of sex must both be present in each and every sexual act.

            "...must both be...."

            They are, whether you want those aspects or not. Do people choose to use "birth control" because they get some kick from it, or because the act happens to be a procreative act (and they want to thwart the procreation!) ??

            "...ignore the teaching...."

            How so? Because they use "birth control"? Why do they use the birth control, if not to thwart the inherent procreative aspect of the act?

            Less "baffled" now?

          • Michael Murray

            It seems that besides all the itty bitty real humans it has destroyed the contraceptive pill has saved many women from some cancers

            http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/05/regularly-taking-pill-helps-prevent-two-forms-cancer-decades-after-use

            It's know also to increase the incidence of some breast cancers. The real world is full of complicated choices. No wonder some people are desperate for a rule book.

            PS: It seems condoms are off again.

          • Phil Rimmer

            But with the latest you might not even notice they're on...

            But this is a simple choice made complicated. Counter-intuitive rules need to be superb not feebly contrived.

            The single most important solution to the African catastrophe to come, in any sense, is the least transgressive. Condoms' technical "failure" is a rule of such arrant nonsense that even Catholics see through it.

          • William Davis

            It isn't just the Catholic Church in Africa, it's also Islam. It can be accurately modeled as a breeding competition for ideological dominance. The Church's teachings on contraception are no accident, more babies = more Catholics, the same is true of Islam. Of course most Muslim sects are more lenient on contraception, but there is a serious built in encouragement to have more children. When food shortages hit, Africans are the first to starve to death because the countries are the poorest and have the most unstable governments.

            http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/23/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/

            http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21613349-end-century-almost-half-worlds-children-may-be-african-can-it

            Jobs are largely being replaced by machines at this point, and that trend is going to grow exponential now that AI is really getting off the ground. We may see a situation where the poorly educated just can't get a job in the not too distant future. People should really study economics, it's very important to understand how the world works, and where we are likely heading.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_catastrophe

          • materetmagistra

            @ William Davis: "The Church's teachings on contraception are no accident, more babies = more Catholics,..."

            Exactly how would you define "fitness" in the Theory of Evolution?

          • William Davis

            It's complicated and varies with the environment. The environment includes social structures which makes things even more complex (a very strong ant that doesn't follow the colonies social rules isn't fit in a very important sense). The wiki article isn't bad, though probably overly simplistic.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_(biology)

            I'm guessing you're trying to make an evolutionary argument for having more children, but this will not necessarily work. Lot's of offspring does not imply fitness, and many species both reproduce rapidly and die rapidly. I'm going for quality, not quantity, and I'm ensuring a high quality upbringing for my children by a variety of standards. If you've had many children, have you made provisions for their higher education? If not, I have no idea how they will fair in the future as more and more repetitive jobs are being replaced by machines. The labor markets of the future are very uncertain and I consider it a moral obligation to my children to get them the best head start I can so they can have a chance. This involves having few children, of necessity. I don't think many of you have put much thought into the future or even tried to comprehend where we are headed.

          • materetmagistra

            @William Davis: "This involves having few children, of necessity."

            [How did Germany accomplish having fewer Jews?]

            Certainly killing one's children so there are fewer children is reprehensible, not to mention a violation of the child's natural right to have his life.

          • William Davis

            Are you really equating not having children to killing them?

          • materetmagistra

            @William Davis: "Are you really equating not having children to killing them?"

            Seems to be how the modern world takes care of "unwanted" children, eh?

            You said: "The labor markets of the future are very uncertain and I consider it a moral obligation to my children to get them the best head start I can so they can have a chance. This involves having few children, of necessity."

            (1) The "best head start" would be allowing them, once they are in existence, to be born, wouldn't you say? Children who are killed certainly do not need education, and certainly have no chance to work any job.

            (2) And, "have a chance" at what? Being a lonely, unhappy millionaire? Having a large, close-knit family is something money cannot buy.

          • William Davis

            Are you a robot or a broken record? Have I said the first damn thing about abortion? I'm not talking about abortion, I'm talking about family planning. Abortion represents a failure in family planning and proper management of one's reproductive system. I would never abort one of my healthy children even if it were unplanned, though there has never been a need, as properly used contraception works. The Church's position on contraception is the purest stupidity grounded on nothing but it's inability to change and operate with reason. This stupidity is likely to result in the death of many African children as it causes them to be born in environments they cannot hope to thrive or even survive. If you want to claim mother's who abort children are murderers, then I claim that you are a murderer for supporting the Catholic Church.

            And, "have a chance" at what? Being a lonely, unhappy millionaire? Having a large, close-knit family is something money cannot buy.

            A chance to survive and thrive. I have a large, extended close-knit family, but each family unit is of a moderate and manageable size. This allows us to afford a good education, good healthcare, healthy food, everything they need to thrive. I also take one on one time to teach my children about all kinds of things, lately we've been learning about meditation and yoga, we read books on science/history (more of that as they get older). I can afford classes like karate (which improves discipline and self control), things that result in a better quality life, in general at least. I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously and realize they will need every edge they can get to compete and survive when they come of age. A larger family would result in less time/financial investment in each child. We don't live in the 1950s anymore, we are competing with a huge population from all over the world, and we are beginning to lose many jobs to machines. Good healthcare is fairly expensive, not to mention I pay nearly 10000 a year in state and federal taxes (and as my income grows that keeps going up). Rationalize overbreeding however you want, but perhaps even the pope is now admitting this problem, though he is possibly powerless to affect the teachings on contraception (even the Pope is a slave to the mind control of unevidenced claims made 2000 years ago). Hopefully you pay for your own children's healthcare. My tax dollars going to irresponsible parents who can't pay for their own kids really ticks me off and is highly immoral, but I don't hold it against the children, it's the idiotic and irresponsible parent's fault.

            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/20/catholics-dont-have-to-breed-like-rabbits-says-pope-francis

          • materetmagistra

            William Davis, a couple of points.

            If you use hormonal or chemical contraception, it is possible that you have caused the untimely death of a conceived offspring. So as to not give up meals out, or piano lessons or any other seemingly 'necessary' purchase you have robbed yourself and your family of knowing one of the family members. Certainly that lost child did not get to enjoy this "better quality of life." Not to mention, your loss of a "better quality of life" by not meeting and living with this unique person.

            Second, "responsible parenthood" that does not resort to modern methods does not mean "overbreeding." It simply means using different, legitimate, methods to work with and understand one's reproductive powers. How many of those women in Africa have been taught the simple Billings method that can be presented simply by teaching with pictures? (One sheet of pictures is pretty cheap.) How many of the men in those women's lives have been taught 'where babies come from'? ($0.)How many of those husbands have been encouraged to self-mastery to comtrol their family size? (Also free by the way.) Put the knowledge and power in the hands of the African couple, instead of making them dependent upon Melinda Gates' or the governments of foreign countries.

            Regarding your: "My tax dollars going to irresponsible parents who can't pay for their own kids really ticks me off and is highly immoral, but I don't hold it against the children, it's the idiotic and irresponsible parent's fault." Well, what is national health care coverage for if it is not for each person? Those with more brothers and sisters do not deserve less healthcare than the only child. If you do not want to provide health care to all, simply get teh law changed. But, do not advocate for national health care coverage and then be a hypocrite and complain when people actually use it.

          • William Davis

            If you use hormonal or chemical contraception, it is possible that you have caused the untimely death of a conceived offspring.

            Just condoms, and what you said isn't true of many types of contraception, though it's true of some. We lost one child due to miscarriage, so God apparently wanted him/her aborted, according to your worldview at least.
            What makes you think I've ever advocated for National Health Care coverage? I'd be ok with a secondary public health system, but not for the current system as it's playing a large part in the major federal deficits (over 25% of all federal spending is on healthcare). I sympathize with the desire to cover all children, but I'm not for the current system as it is so easily abused. It should be for people who fall on hard times, not for people who have more children because they no someone else will cover the expense. I hope that doesn't apply to you, as you haven't answered any of my personal questions. I've answered yours and it continues to appear I hold the moral high ground.
            In the end you do not debate people, you debate stereotypes.

          • materetmagistra

            @William Davis: "In the end you do not debate people, you debate stereotypes."

            I debate ideas.

            @William Davis: " It should be for people who fall on hard times, not for people who have more children because they no someone else will cover the expense."

            So, would you advocate for aborting already existing offspring as being more moral than seeking government aid? No, there are not easy answers, but when you rightly consider human dignity there are some options that simply don't work towards building a more humane civilization.

          • William Davis

            I debate ideas.

            Where do ideas exist? You're either going to platonic heaven to debate the form of an idea, or you are debating it in the mind of a person. Thus you must engage and debate the person to get at the idea. You might want to try thinking things through a bit more ;)

            So, would you advocate for aborting already existing offspring as being more moral than seeking government aid? No, there are not easy answers, but when you rightly consider human dignity there are some options that simply don't work towards building a more humane civilization.

            So, like the rest of us, you seek the lesser evil. I saw that go right over your head earlier, perhaps you can comprehend it now? There is a great amount of room to disagree on what the greater evil is if you don't live inside the Catholic mind bubble. It's impossible for you to comprehend unless you step out of that bubble, but I'm pretty sure you aren't allowed. That's why you mostly tear down your own straw men, as oppose to even targeting the actual ideas of those you speak to.

          • materetmagistra

            @William Davis: "...as oppose to even targeting the actual ideas of those you speak to."

            Thank you. The idea, then, is not the person. Yes, target the idea, not the person.

            @William Davis: "So, like the rest of us, you seek the lesser evil."

            And, that "lesser evil" here is........

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The pill is not an abortifacient. The pill works by preventing ovulation. No ovulation means no conception. If somehow ovulation does occur the pill also thickens the cervical mucus so sperm cannot swim to the egg in order to fertilize.
            Now, a thickening of the uterine lining is caused by ovulation. Obviously the pill thins the uterine lining, because it prevents ovulation.

            According to medical science, pregnancy begins at implantation. Before implantation there are no tests for conception, so one cannot know if a zygote fails to implant. The claim that the pill is an abortifacient is based on fanciful stories of what could possibly happen without any evidence that it actually does. Basically, according to the pro-life crowd the pill fails to prevent ovulation and a sperm is able to swim through thicker mucus to fertilize the egg, which than fails to implant, because the uterine lining is thinner, when ovulation thickens the lining. All of this without any evidence that this actually occurs with any frequency or at all.

            In the end, if we really wanted to limit the amount of failed implantations, we would encourage the use of the pill. After all, approximately 25-50% of all conceptions are spontaneously aborted before the woman even knows she is pregnant.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "According to medical science, pregnancy begins at implantation."

            Hide behind this manufactured definition (which you find being promoted after the Pill becomes more widely promoted and its true actions known) if you want. However, I am speaking precisely about the tiny human offspring that begins existence at fertilization. What happens to that tiny human being when it arrives at the wall of its mother's uterus and finds that the adhesion molecules in the mother's endometrial epithelium have been made impotent by the actions of the Pill?

            P.S. Package inserts for hormonal contraception identify the action of those drugs. However, if you want to stand by that we cannot know the exact action of those drugs, you yourself lose the opportunity to claim you can know such action doesn't happen.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Hide behind this manufactured definition (which you find being promoted after the Pill becomes more widely promoted and its true actions known) if you want.

            It is the medical definition. You cannot know if you are pregnant till after implantation.

            However, I am speaking precisely about the tiny human offspring that begins existence at fertilization

            25-50% of which are spontaneously aborted. I guess by God. Look, the pill works to prevent fertilization. Preventing an implantation is not considered a feature of how the pill works

            What happens to that tiny human being when it arrives at the wall of its mother's uterus and finds that the adhesion molecules in the mother's endometrial epithelium have been made impotent by the actions of the Pill?

            Ovulation thickens the uterine wall. People get pregnant on the pill. You realize that in the absolute worst case, even if all your fantasies are correct is that an occasional embryo fails to implant that would have probably failed to implant anyway, because 25-50% do anyway.

            Package inserts for hormonal contraception identify the action of those drugs. However, if you want to stand by that we cannot know the exact action of those drugs, you yourself lose the opportunity to claim you can know such action doesn't happen.

            The pill acts by preventing ovulation and making it difficult for sperm to get to the egg. That is what the manufacturers will tell you. That the pill acts to prevent implantation is based on specious claims by the religious right. When did I say that we cannot know the action of the drug. We have a very good idea about how it operates. And yes, it is possible to not know the action of a drug and still know things that do not happen. Basic logic.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "Preventing an implantation is not considered a feature of how the pill works."

            It may not be a feature you care to report on, but you cannot deny it to be one of the known actions of the hormones. Heck, even the Supreme Court accepts that science.

            @ your: "... is that an occasional embryo fails to implant that would have probably failed to implant anyway..."

            Ah, so you do acknowledge that an embryo might find the endometriual lining to be inhospitable. So what if some embryos spontaneously abort? You clam 25-50% do...which means 50-75% don't. That one does does not mean another will. That one man dies naturally does not mean it is just to intentionally kill a different one. Therefore, this is no argument of any sort.

            @your: "And yes, it is possible to not know the action of a drug and still know things that do not happen. Basic logic."

            Really. You do not know, yet you do know. [That is not the defintion of logic - more like the defintion of irrationality.]

            Physicians' Package Insert Ortho Tri-cyclen® Tablets - - ->
            "Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)." Accessed at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/021690lbl.pdf

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It may not be a feature you care to report on, but you cannot deny it to be one of the known actions of the hormones. Heck, even the Supreme Court accepts that science.

            The manufacturers do not include it as a way that the pill functions. With the right wing creating a huge conspiracy about it, it does not surprise me that the government mandates a warning on the package. If it is sound science, it would be simple for you to show us the studies that link higher implantation failure rates with use of hormonal contraceptives.

            Here is a New York Times article on Plan B:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/health/research/morning-after-pills-dont-block-implantation-science-suggests.html?_r=0

            But an examination by The New York Times has found that the federally approved labels and medical Web sites do not reflect what the science shows. Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, leading scientists say. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.

            .....

            The notion that morning-after pills prevent eggs from implanting stems from the Food and Drug Administration’s decision during the drug-approval process to mention that possibility on the label — despite lack of scientific proof, scientists say, and objections by the manufacturer of Plan B, the pill on the market the longest. Leading scientists say studies since then provide strong evidence that Plan B does not prevent implantation, and no proof that a newer type of pill, Ella, does. Some abortion opponents said they remain unconvinced.

            And for the daily pill is article by a couple of pro-life Ob-Gyns:

            http://www.aaplog.org/position-and-papers/oral-contraceptive-controversy/hormone-contraceptives-controversies-and-clarifications/

            In this paper, they will, where convenient, be collectively referred to as the “pill.” Most hormone contraceptives are noted to work by 3 methods of action:

            1)Primarily, they inhibit ovulation by suppression of the pituitary/ovarian axis, mediated through suppression of gonadotrophin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus.

            2)Secondarily, they inhibit transport of sperm through the cervix by thickening the cervical mucous.

            3)They cause changes in the uterine lining (endometrium) which have historically been assumed to decrease the possibility of implantation, should fertilization occur. This presumption is commonly known as the “hostile endometrium” theory.

            A thorough review of the medical literature uncovers ample data to support the first two methods of action, which are contraceptive actions. (Appropriate references will be found in the sections discussing each type of hormone contraceptive.) However, there is no direct evidence in the literature to support the third proposed method of action. This conclusion is shared by the respected Gynecologic Endocrinology textbook authors Yen and Jaffe.

            .....

            An extensive review of pertinent scientific writings indicates that there is no credible evidence to validate a mechanism of pre-implantation abortion as a part of the action of hormone contraceptives. On the contrary, the existing evidence indicates that “on pill” conceptions are handled by the reproductive system with the same results seen with “off pill” conceptions, with the exception of increased ectopic rates seen with POPs and Norplant.

            ....

            In a normal menstrual cycle, on the day of ovulation the uterine lining (proliferative endometrium) is not receptive to implantation. Seven days of follicle and corpus luteum hormone output transform it to “receptive.” The same follicle and corpus luteum hormone output, when ovulation occurs in a “pill” cycle, should have a similar salutary effect on the pill-primed endometrium. It is highly probable that the so-called “hostile to implantation” endometrium– heralded (without proof) from the beginning by the “pill” producing companies, echoed (without investigation) by 2 generations of scientific writers, and now adopted (as a scientific fact) by some sincere prolife advocates– simply does not exist six days after ovulation in a pill cycle.

            Really. You do not know, yet you do know. [That is not the defintion of logic - more like the defintion of irrationality.]

            Please comment on things that I actually write and not your misconstructions. It is possible to not know everything that a drug does, while still knowing things that a drug does not do.

            For instance, a company could develop a drug that helps people quit smoking. This company could also know that this drug does not cause vomiting. At the same time, this company might not know that this drug also works to prevent migraines, but they were unaware of that use for the drug, because they did not test for it.

            Ah, so you do acknowledge that an embryo might find the endometriual lining to be inhospitable. So what if some embryos spontaneously abort? You clam 25-50% do...which means 50-75% don't. That one does does not mean another will. That one man dies naturally does not mean it is just to intentionally kill a different one. Therefore, this is no argument of any sort.

            I did not acknowledge that. I said that "even if all your fantasies are correct." My point was that you are getting all worked up over something that either rarely happens, or most likely never happens at all. And actually less embryos die because of the pill, because less embryos are made. You realize that the purpose of the pill is to prevent fertilization not prevent implantation.

          • materetmagistra

            @Ignatius: "You realize that the purpose of the pill is to prevent fertilization not prevent implantation."

            Sure, one may take it to get the one effect, but that does not mean the other effect doesn't happen.

          • David Nickol

            It is a well established fact that cigarette smoking can increase the risk of an early embryo failing to implant. Must sexually active, fertile women refrain from smoking lest they accidentally cause the death of a conceived (but not yet implanted) child? Nobody needs to smoke.

          • materetmagistra

            I am not obligated to buy the smokes, am I?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Sure, one may take it to get the one effect, but that does not mean the other effect doesn't happen.

            Correct, but I have just showed you that there is no evidence that the pill prevents implantation.

            If the pill prevented implantation, which I do not think it does, it would not prevent implantation all of the time. Rather, it would only increase the percentage of conceptions that failed to implant. For example, perhaps in the non-pill population 40% of conceptions fail to implant, while in the pill population, perhaps 44% of conceptions fail to implant.

            It seems that the direct effect of hormonal contraceptives is to prevent fertilization, while any effect to prevent conception is small and an indirect effect. (Again, all of this is a wild what-if scenario, as you still have not provided any evidence that the pill does act to prevent implantation, while I have provided evidence to the contrary.)
            Also, if our goal is to reduce the number of failed implantations, everyone should be on the pill. After all, less fertilizations mean less failed implantations.

            If a pharmaceutical company invented a hormonal contraceptive that prevented fertilization, but in the cases that it fertilized increased the likelihood of implantation, would you be against using that pill?

          • David Nickol

            I find your comment here offensive. Perhaps you didn't mean to, but you have implied a kind of guilt by association, responding to someone who talked about limiting the number of children by invoking the Holocaust and implying that people who decide what number of children to have must be killing them, just like the Nazis!

            You are not reflecting the teachings of the Catholic Church. Although "artificial" contraception is forbidden, it is most certainly not the case that the Catholic Church prohibits Catholic married couples from regulating the number and spacing of their children. There is no required size for a Catholic family, nor is there any formula, economic or otherwise, for calculating the number of children a Catholic couple must have.

            The horse you are on (based on this message and a few other recent ones) is much too high. You are not speaking for the Church, and I think you should think seriously about whether what you say might not be confirming the negative opinions some visitors here have about Catholics.

          • materetmagistra

            @David Nickol: "I find your comment here offensive. Perhaps you didn't mean to, but you have implied a kind of guilt by association, responding to someone who talked about limiting the number of children."

            If you have been following, you will know that I wholeheartedly agree with Church teaching that a married couple is obligated to "responsible parenthood." However, themarried couple is likewise obligated to treat each and every fellow human being with dignity, and may never, ever kill an unborn child even if they feel they cannot responsibly take care of him.

            Guilt by association? Hardly. Those who practice or promote modern birth control (certain chemical and hormonal and IUD methods), as well as those who practice or promote abortion, as the means to "limit births" are directly culpable for moral evil. One may never take innocent life. Basic Justice. Basic Morality.

          • David Nickol

            What I objected to, and still find objectionable when I reread the messages, is the fact that WD's post was almost entirely about his own personal approach to his family size, and you launched into comments about Nazis killing Jews. As I said, perhaps you didn't mean to, but you implied some kind of moral equivalence between WD's own personal behavior and the Nazis. You do not know how many children WD has or how he has chosen to limit his family to that size. (And it would be none of your business.) Perhaps it would help if you clarified whether it was your intention (as I hope it was not) to imply any personal misbehavior on WD's part.

            A great many Jews find comparisons between the Holocaust and abortion to be inappropriate, and I agree with them. I would agree with them even if I regarded abortion as murder. The Holocaust was a unique and terrible event in 20th-century history, and I think for any other cause, no matter how worthy, to attempt to use the horror of it to further their own ends is at minimum very unfortunate.

          • Michael Murray

            Perhaps it would help if you clarified whether it was your intention (as I hope it was not) to imply any personal misbehavior on WD's part.

            I think it's pretty clear what the message is. Not sure if it was supposed to apply to William.

            Those who practice or promote modern birth control (certain chemical and hormonal and IUD methods), as well as those who practice or promote abortion, as the means to "limit births" are directly culpable for moral evil. One may never take innocent life. Basic Justice. Basic Morality.

            Those of us who have ever used some form of contraception other than NFP or (strangely) barrier methods are guilty of moral evil because we have taken innocent lives.

            William may be spared because he has said before on these boards that his wife didn't use the contraceptive pill. My wife and I on the other hand are damned, damned I tell you. The flames of hell await us. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Etc, etc.

            They wonder why we don't take them seriously FFS.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Those who practice or promote modern birth control (certain chemical and hormonal and IUD methods), as well as those who practice or promote abortion.."

            So, condoms are back on again?

          • Michael Murray

            I also wondered about that omission. Perhaps also not all contraceptive pills: "certain chemical ... "

            Who knows -- maybe my wife and I won't burn up after all ?

            I wonder if US Catholics still use Microsoft products with all the money Bill and Melinda Gates are putting into condom research.

            http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/07/30/4283919.htm

          • Phil Rimmer

            Sadly, this will just prove to be another clerical error....

            Clearly you two haven't adequately read and understood the small print here. Your undue consideration of the kind of planet you will bequeath to your (and my! and all the little Catholic) children will get you a roasting.

            This is the ultimate sacrifice, surely? To sacrifice your chance of an eternity with God for the sake others to come? I salute you both. What a grumpy old God to not appreciate the way you had chosen to exercise his gift to you of free will.

            Melinda and Bill walk the walk. Bill's investment here in super thin and strong condoms with enhanced protection against infection is true morality in action. Melinda's work promoting contraceptives is personally brave.

            http://www.christianpost.com/news/melinda-gates-talks-catholic-faith-and-funding-contraceptives-to-fight-aids-116459/

            and

            http://www.ted.com/talks/melinda_gates_let_s_put_birth_control_back_on_the_agenda

            Catholics are so much better than their church.

          • materetmagistra

            My wording does not indicate "only" those who practice......

            Other methods (namely those that do not have as their main action the killing of an already existing human being) involve different immoralities.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "different immoralities..."

            I can't wait to have this explained.

            So condoms don't kill, but...

          • materetmagistra

            The illicitness of condoms has to do with the intent to thwart the inherent unity of the unitive/procreative act. More completely thought out words than mine [from the Catechism of the Catholic Church]:

            2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

            When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156

            2369 "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."157

            2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:159

            Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160

          • Phil Rimmer

            So the RCC will, indeed, play a major role in the catastrophe to come, its positive refusal to admit the senile errors in its earlier confabulations, the horrors wrought by all idealisms locked out of learning by their accumulating mistakes, will see to that.

            Most Catholics know of these errors, and choose more wisely for themselves (except of course those 50% extra Catholic women obtaining abortions). But most Catholics seem cowed into silence over helping Africans with a decent choice for themselves. The RCC is free and clear to fail again....

            "open to life"

            Evil has never worn such a gleaming smile.

          • Mila

            You are fine don't worry about the false accusations below.

          • William Davis

            Add this to consideration, most estimates predict a maximum of 10 billion people, even with all the agricultural miracles of science. Also consider that these miracles are largely based on extracting fertilizer from fossil fuels, so fuel depletion could greatly reduce that maximum population. The world currently consumes over 90 million barrels of oil per day, and that's just oil. More people equals more depletion and a faster onset of catastrophe.

            http://www.livescience.com/16493-people-planet-earth-support.html

          • Phil Rimmer

            The best UN figures show 12bn at 2100. 4bn in Africa!

          • fergalf
          • William Davis

            Nice article, I thought those numbers seemed extreme.

          • William Davis

            Nice article, I thought those numbers seemed extreme.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I am unsurprised that a later analysis (using better statistical processes) will find a moderately different result, 11bn rather than 12bn.

            I hope you read and understood how they are "flawed" and how that relates to the point at hand, to whit the astonishing population boom of Africa. The rest of the world's population is flat-topping. Pakistan and Bangladesh are comparative success stories and will flat top around 2035 to 2050. (Note there is a run-on of population expansion after the replacement rate goes negative due to a health dividend, lasting one or two generations.)

            Africa is spectacular with the projection of 400% population growth over 85 years. Even if this were halved (as it probably would be by unprecedented, biblical, famine and pestilence) to only 200% it remains a disaster of unthinkable proportions.

            The article concludes with the real issue.

            "At the moment Africa is the source of much new population growth and the authors assume that fertility rates will continue to fall more slowly there than they did in Asia and Latin America. But no one can be sure."

            Back to the RCC. Will they man up to ABC?

          • fergalf

            There are many reason to think the figures are dodgy. An expert at Deutsche Bank projected the population in 2100 to be 8billion in 2012. Most growth will occur in Africa and there is nothing wrong with that.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Do you have a link for this expert? I'm very happy with the link you provided most recently. Did you want to change your mind after discovering its values didn't actually meet your needs?

          • fergalf

            Are Deutsch Bank a Catholic organisation now? The estimate can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24303537 or on a More or Less podcast http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01h5j4s.

          • Phil Rimmer

            No. We need something more than this-

            "Sanyal is sceptical.

            "Surely Nigerians will recognise at some points that things are getting crowded and stop having so many babies?" he argues."

            Well not if every child is a gift, not to be refused or thwarted by disordered latex.

            http://www.ciai-s.net/catholic_world_map.jpg

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Countriesbyfertilityrate.svg

            Just listening to More or Less. I think Sanyal is entirely wrong on the effects of a decent health dividend for Africa. If you look at the stunningly fast and large flip in longevity for even being moderately lifted out of poverty, this will be a major factor buoying up population growth for two generations or so.

            His "nearly a billion" Nigerians by 2100 as an account of the UN's median position of 760 million, isn't confidence giving for a statistician.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Are Deutsch Bank a Catholic organisation now?"

            No. Other people get to be wrong too, on occassions.

      • Mike

        Is it the fact that they are black that bothers you?

        • Phil Rimmer

          So, so, so...not. They are poor and abused and bamboozled and need real practical no strings help. They need to be lifted out of poverty and they need real healthcare. Melinda Gates is correct. they will not use contraceptives, risking misery for all, if they are at risk of losing their first child/children and have poor prospects for their old age.

          5+ children per family even in Nigeria though it is the richest country on paper on the continent now, shows an iniquitous distribution of wealth an healthcare and even for those with a share of the riches a mindset of non-refusable gifts from God keeping them careering to miseries untold for their kids and kids kids.

          • Mike

            well soon they'll displace rich white folks who don't like children...so it'll be a win win.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I'm not really detecting anything human I need to converse with. It may be me. I'm a little slow on the social uptake, sometimes.

          • Mike

            ok, take care and watch out for those overly fruitful africans!

          • Phil Rimmer

            I should not try and lift the desperately poor out of their extreme poverty? Or encourage more Catholics to be more like Melinda Gates and promote contraception?

            "watch out for those overly fruitful africans..."

            This still doesn't look like anything any human I know would say.

          • Mike

            lol ok, take care.

    • George

      how should you feel about the gift-giver if he sometimes knowingly uses rapists as the wrapping paper?

      • Alexandra

        George, why are you saying this to me? What is your purpose?

        • neil_pogi

          atheists always think that God is evil all the time. i don't know why? they believe God doesn't exists and yet all they do is killing him. killing a 'doesn't exists' makes no sense.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks Neil. I don't understand this contradiction either. (Although not all Athiests use this type of argument, just some.)

          • neil_pogi

            i don't think so alexandra. proof of this, you can visit their sites. even dawkins wrote in the 'God delusion' that God is 'brutal, torturer, malevolent, pestilent, murderer, molester, etc..

            if they hate God, why hate him if He doesn't exists ,according to them?

          • Doug Shaver

            atheists always think that God is evil all the time.

            That is a falsehood.

          • neil_pogi

            and now one atheist says God is good!

  • Phil Rimmer

    "Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested."

    LOL. (I think my first time of using.)

    "the problem is that feelings are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind. If you doubt me, read some of the accounts of the officers and soldiers in the Nazi death camps, who, after years of killing, lost all feeling for those they were murdering,"

    No they are not ephemeral but they can be bullied and manipulated into what is required by the powerful and self interested, in-grouping idealists all.

    Governed by evidence and reason all we need is to identify endlessly the manipulative and self serving idealists, their seamless interlarding of commonsense and their own weird horrors.

  • Mila

    Some people would be presented with the most horrific evidence of inhumane evil actions, but if they don't want to see it they'll say the evidence is fabricated or "edited". Such is the product of pride.

    • Abandon Window

      Sounds like what Christians do with all the stories in the Bible about God killing (or ordering the killing) of men, women, and children.

    • Doug Shaver

      if they don't want to see it they'll say the evidence is fabricated or "edited".

      If the evidence actually is fabricated, or edited in an obviously misleading way, does it matter how motivated we are to say so?

      • Mila

        So is this fabricated too Doug?
        Watch it and tell me when the woman gets the body of an intact 20 week old baby out of the fridge is edited.

        Like I said, some people would invent such lies in their minds and eventually believe them, even when the evidence is so grotesque.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=672&v=egGUEvY7CEg

        • Doug Shaver

          So is this fabricated too Doug?

          I didn't say anything was fabricated, and I don't have to. If you want to change my thinking by shoving a grotesque video in my face, it is your responsibility to prove its authenticity, not mine to prove the contrary.

          • Mila

            It is not my job to prove that a PP worker is dissecting a 20 week old baby and talking about how they can get better prices if the baby is aborted as a whole. The proof is in the video.
            The burden of proof is in those who are desperately attempting to say that it is edited. What a lame and shameful excuse to defend the indefensible.
            You can watch the entire video online you know.

            You don't like the video? You think it is grotesque? Can you imagine being there watching it live? Can you imagine the pain a 20 week old baby feels?

            Let's see: These two videos summarize the pitiful attempts at trying to defend against this evidence.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xRrwHiwhU4

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTlKfpt6tgU&index=1&list=FLOYG__hBTp67wHwhUT6YEZA

            What really happened to you? How does someone get to the point where they would defend with lame excuses the indefensible?

  • Ignatius Reilly

    If God used the fetal tissue for medical research, he would be bringing good out of evil, and if he made a profit, that would just be a greater good.

    • William Davis

      What is natural selection if not using fetal (any tissue for that matter) tissue for an odd form of medical research? The suffering it creates, however, is not generally considered good...

  • Kraker Jak

    just as surely as night follows day. If there is no God, then human beings are dispensable—so why not trade the organs of infants for a nice Lamborghini?

    • David Nickol

      In essence Father Barron has accused Dr. Mary Gatter of Planned Parenthood of attempting to negotiate a deal on behalf of her employer to engage in illegal conduct (profiting from the sale of fetal tissue) for her own personal monetary gain. It seems to me that amounts to libel. Can he or anyone else demonstrate that this would have been a profit-making (and hence illegal) deal for Planned Parenthood, and if so, whether Dr. Gatter would have shared in the profits? If not, it seems an apology to Dr. Gatter is in order.

      I have no trouble at all understanding why those who take the "orthodox" Catholic position on abortion would be appalled at the very existence of Planned Parenthood and would strongly condemn abortion providers (a) for merely being abortion providers and (b) for providing fetal tissue to medical researchers. But that is not what we have in the OP. As I said above, we have accusations against a specific individual of being greedy and attempt to make illegal profits.

      Here, by the way, is what LifeSiteNews.com has to say about the Lambourghini remark:

      Let’s be fair, Planned Parenthood’s Medical Director’s Council President Dr. Mary Gatter was clearly joking when she said she wanted a Lamborghini in today’s video, released by The Center for Medical Progress.

      It was tongue-in-cheek, and we need not take it out of context or blow it out of proportion. To do so would be dishonest and deceptive, and we need to remember that it’s Big Abortion—specifically Planned Parenthood—alone who has something to hide.

      LifeSiteNews!

      • Kraker Jak

        It was tongue-in-cheek,

        As was my little cartoon. For those who perhaps didn't get it, think irony, satire and a touch of sarcasm.

        • William Davis

          I liked the soylent green part (technically before my time, but a good and disturbing movie ;)

  • Kevin Aldrich

    One abortion clinic can be *reimbursed* over a million dollars a year. This is according to testimony before the Texas State Senate Committee for Health and Human Services. Begin about 2:30 in at http://tlcsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=10412

    • David Nickol

      It's very simple. If Planned Parenthood is breaking the law by inflating the amount of reimbursement they request for tissue donation, then they can be investigated and prosecuted. The thing is, your goal, Father Barron's goal and the goal of the Center for Medical Progress is not to make sure Planned Parenthood obeys the law. It is to criminalize abortion and shut down Planned Parenthood altogether.

      I watched some of the testimony in the video you link to, and based on what I know. It doesn't add up. For one thing, the first woman who testified used the Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston as her example. This is a facility that Planned Parenthood critics call an "abortion supercenter." As she testified, their goal is to perform 75 abortions per day, 6 days a week. That is huge, amounting by my calculations to about 2% of the 1.21 million abortions per year (75 per day X 6 days X 52 weeks equals 23,400; 23,400 / 1.210,000 equals approximately .01933 or 1.93 percent.

      Anyone who has ever worked for a large business operation knows that there are no added tasks that are time-free and cost-free. When managed my company's digital archive, sometimes the "paperwork" (mostly maintaining digital records) for many tasks could take more time than the tasks themselves. I believe I have already quoted this from FactCheck.org, but here it is again:

      We also asked experts in the use of human tissue for research about the potential for profit. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s “biorepository,” told us that “there’s no way there’s a profit at that price.” She continued in an email:

      Sawyer, July 20: In reality, $30-100 probably constitutes a loss for [Planned Parenthood]. The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures (ones no longer needed for clinical purposes, and without identity) for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block. In the realm of tissues for research $30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        The horror.

        • David Nickol

          Perfect response. All emotion, no reason.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sometimes even conservatives can respond like progressives.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I tend to think that both groups use plenty of emotion and little reason. Conservatives are certainly not a bastion of reason. In general, I would say liberals tend to be more reasonable.

            Certainly, in the case of the planned parenthood videos, it is the conservatives who are immune to reason and all about emotion, distortions, and lies.

            1) Planned parenthood donates, but does not sell at a profit fetal tissue.

            2) There is no liberal scheme to abort gay babies

            3) Nobody at PP is getting rich off fetal tissue and buying a Lamborghini

            4) Planned parenthood is complying with all federal laws

            5) They do not preform partial birth abortions to achieve better fetal tissue. There is an alternate suction method, which leads to better fetal tissue.

            Conservatives have lied about all five of these points. Not to mention the lewd journalistic practices of The Center for Medical Progress. Journalism is about investigating stories not creating them.

            It is one thing to have a debate about the morality of abortion and whether or not we should change our laws. It is quite another to knowingly lie and distort.

          • William Davis

            It is quite another to knowingly lie and distort.

            Propaganda is alive and well in the west, even though some of us have the illusion that such things only exist in totalitarian states.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It would be wise to withhold your final judgment until all the videos are released. Journalists do sting videos all the time. No one has complained about them until the object became PP and other abortionists.

          • David Nickol

            It would be wise to withhold your final judgment until all the videos are released.

            The principal legal issue, it seems to me, is something the videos can't settle: Is Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue, or donating it with reasonable compensation? As I have argued here recently, I don't think there is anyone writing on Strange Notions who has the background and knowledge to judge what reasonable compensation is for tissue donation. Remember, we're in the medical world for this one, and if hospitals can charge $15 for one Tylenol pill, it's difficult to say that $100 is an outrageous charge for just about anything.

            But of course, this is not really about legal issues. It is to make Planned Parenthood seem as evil as possible with the hoped-for goal of denying them any more federal funds. It is basically irrational, since no federal funds go toward abortions, but it is very effective.

            One thing that is important to remember about the videos is that Planned Parenthood affiliates in only three states donate fetal tissue. In a rational world, if wrongdoing were found among a handful of affiliates of any national organization, there would not be calls to bring the entire organization down. But a lot of those in the antiabortion movement have "Planned Parenthood Derangement Syndrome."

          • Kevin Aldrich

            ( Quoted from http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2015/08/wake-up-dont-hide-watch-5th-planned.html)

            Here is what Princeton Professor Robert P. George said about the Senate vote Monday:

            This evening's Senate vote pertaining to de-funding Planned Parenthood reveals that there are 55 senators in favor of de-funding (53 of whom are Republicans) and 45 against (44 of whom are Democrats). Speaking for myself, it's hard to fathom how anyone could support continued funding of this organization, knowing what we know about what goes on in its "clinics" and the attitudes of its people, but it is beyond clear now that Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry owns the Democratic Party. I mean, they own it---lock, stock, and barrel.

            Even after pro-abortion forces gained the upper hand in the Party in the 1970s (causing me and countless others to bolt) there remained a substantial and, for a while, far from powerless "Democrats for Life" caucus. Even as an Independent (I hadn't yet joined the Republicans), I was proud to work for the Real Bob Casey when, as governor of Pennsylvania, he was the leader of the pro-life Democrats. We worked with Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy, former New York Governor Hugh Carey (who had returned to the fold), liberal theologian Ron Sider, Village Voice writer Nat Hentoff, and many others. But those days are gone. The Democrats today are the Party of Abortion, and nothing the abortion industry does, however heinous, and nothing its leaders say, however callous, can shake their allegiance. No Wall Street fat cat or Hollywood mogul ever had a more willing or devoted mistress.

            As if to ratify my point and symbolically close the book on the idea of the pro-life Democrat, this evening, Senator Robert Casey, the son and namesake of the Real Bob Casey, cast his vote and his lot with Planned Parenthood. Senator Casey continues to claim to be pro-life, but his claim is now risible. He's supporting an organization that looks for "less crunchy techniques to secure whole specimens" and "crushes a little above, and a little below," to spare desirable organs, because, "you know, people want liver"---an organization that tries to "do a little better than break even" on the hearts, lungs, and kidneys their abortionists extract from "products of conception."

            As I said in an earlier post, somewhere the Real Bob Casey is weeping---for his son and for his party.

            In my experience, political progressives constantly accuse conservatives of what they have themselves. You speak of Planned Parenthood Derangement Syndrome. Isn't it true you have Planned Parenthood Infatuation Syndrome?

          • David Nickol

            Isn't it true you have Planned Parenthood Infatuation Syndrome?

            Actually, not in the least. I stopped contributing to Planned Parenthood literally decades ago, and the only abortion/antiabortion organization I contributed to is a local crisis pregnancy center which was very upfront in saying they would make no referrals for abortion. They have recently merged with another organization, expanded, and scrubbed their web site of any explicit information that they are anti-abortion, and they will get no further donations from me. I am 100% in favor of providing women who have unplanned pregnancies with anything and everything that could aid them in coping with any circumstances that made them feel they "needed" an abortion. I am not in favor of antiabortion advocates luring pregnant women into antiabortion centers under false pretenses and pressuring them not to have abortions.

            I have often quoted this passage from the Declaration on Procured Abortion:

            On the contrary, it is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption—a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.

            How much of that will Robert George and the Republican Party support?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Bravo for you (sincerely). I can't speak for Robert George but I don't doubt he is 100% in agreement with the declaration (I assume is from the UN). Members of the Republican Party have many different views, but the following is the official platform (according to my googling):

            The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

            Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.

            Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form – and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

            We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

            https://www.gop.com/platform/we-the-people/

          • David Nickol

            That does not strike me as "pro-life." It's anti-abortion. This quote from Sister Joan Chittister is currently floating around the web, and it makes a lot of sense to me:

            I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            > We affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

            That is not prolife?

            Can you tell me which children in the US are not fed, educated, and housed?

          • David Nickol

            Can you tell me which children in the US are not fed, educated, and housed?

            Check out Covenant House, and take particular note of some of the topics under the heading "The Issues" (on the same level as the red "Donate" button, and to the left) such as "Teen Homelessness," "Living Wages" and "Statistics."

          • Darren

            David Nickol wrote,

            As I have argued here recently, I don't think there is anyone writing on Strange Notions who has the background and knowledge to judge what reasonable compensation is for tissue donation. Remember, we're in the medical world for this one, and if hospitals can charge $15 for one Tylenol pill, it's difficult to say that $100 is an outrageous charge for just about anything.

            I figured I might weigh in as I have some experience working in the field of human tissues.

            I worked for several years at a firm that recovered human
            tissues, heart valves, veins, arteries, from recently deceased tissue donors. These tissues were then processed by us (dissected, repaired if need be, and
            cryogenically preserved), stored, and distributed to hospitals around the world
            (but mostly in the US). Our tissues were intended for implantation within living patients, so some differences with the research use of fetal tissues, but overall I would imagine very similar.

            Yes, we were not allowed to “sell” tissues, but we did
            distribute tissues to surgical centers and received compensation for our “reasonable expenses”. It was, I was made to understand, expected that as a for-profit business, we could make a “reasonable” profit, whatever that might be, and certainly our margins on human tissues were many times lower than margins on pharmaceutical or medical devices. No lamborghinis in our parking lot.

            Obtaining tissues was done through independent recovery teams of surgeons and support staff. Legally we were not buying the tissue, nor where they selling the tissue, but we did compensate these independent teams for recovered tissues.

            All tissues were donated, with no compensation given to the families or estates.

            Costs associated with recovering tissues are significant. In
            our case, recovery teams consisted of at least one surgeon and one or more surgical nurses or support staff. These teams might recover multiple tissues per day or might go days or weeks with no recoveries. The teams also had to pay the hospitals for the privilege of using the OR’s to recover tissues and for any supplies the hospital provided.

            Each team was provided with procedures, written and
            maintained by us (at our cost), and recovery kits (shipping materials, transport solutions, etc.) all of which had to be maintained at our cost at a hundred or so facilities nationwide.

            Recovered tissues were shipped Next-Day Air to our
            processing facility, received, run through multiple infectious disease and microbial tests, then separated into component tissues, preserved, cryogenically frozen, stored in liquid nitrogen until being shipped out in special liquid-nitrogen containers back to the hospitals from whence they came and maintained there in liquid nitrogen freezers until ready for use.

            All of this was done at cost plus a “small” profit. Many of
            the actual costs associated with the recovery and processing, storing, and distributing were difficult to quantify, and so we often made use of the “well, what are the other companies paying/charging?” method. In a field in which there were multiple competing entities, those that charge less than actual cost either exit the field or are forced to charge more, similarly those that charge
            excessively more than cost would be undercut by competitors and so also exit the industry. The Invisible Hand of the Market was a surprisingly efficient regulator and so, IMO, Planned Parenthood saying they would look at reimbursement rates of competitors is perfectly valid. How does anyone know what anything is worth? First check out what three other guys are selling/buying it for and that will give a pretty good idea.

            I can also say that, at least for our tissues, our _actual_ costs ran into the thousands of dollars per tissue.

          • David Nickol

            Thanks for taking the time to provide this valuable (and interesting) information.

            As I have noted before, Planned Parenthood affiliates in only three states donate tissue and accept compensation for it. Even if these affiliates are found to be breaking some law, which does not seem at all likely to me, defunding Planned Parenthood nationwide would seem to be an overreaction, particularly because government funds paid to Planned Parenthood cannot (and are not) used for abortions.

          • Darren

            Kevin Aldrich wrote,

            Journalists do sting videos all the time. No one has complained about them until the object became PP and other abortionists.

            What, something on television being misleading?

            Inconceivable!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Well I have seen anything but distortions and lies so far. I don't expect that to change. I don't have a problem with a sting video. I have a problem with attempting to create news rather than report on it, the multiple attempts at entrapment, and the selective editing of the videos.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You can watch the complete videos. Hours and hours. Go ahead.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I have watched some of the unedited videos and read various articles about the conspiracy. Everything I have seen so far points to the fact that the videos contain many distortions and lies. I would think that the people who are promoting the videos as facts, such as Fr Barron, would fact check a little more carefully. I certainly would not write an article promoting a news story that I have not fact checked first. The right is not doing their due diligence here.

            Edit: changed a word.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            One must both check the edited videos against the complete videos to see if the edited versions are distortions.

            You also have to take a critical look at the fact-checkers. They can be terribly biased in favor of PP.

      • materetmagistra

        @David's provided: "The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high."

        Check this out: http://www.jillstanek.com/2015/08/planned-parenthood-absolutely-zilch-zippo-earn-baby-parts-reimbursement/

        • David Nickol

          In a debate about abortion, for abortion opponents to cite Jill Stanek as an authority would be equivalent to those who are pro-choice citing Emily's List or (the late) Dr. George Tiller. Jill Stanek is simply not a credible voice to anyone who is not already a rabid opponent of abortion.

          I doubt that there is anyone reading this who is truly qualified to estimate the true cost or permissible reimbursement request for donated tissue from an abortion clinic. Certainly I am not. But I noted in the Jill Stanek piece and in an associated video featuring a "procurement technician," that the company StemExpress had their technicians actually working in the Planned Parenthood clinics. My work experience since graduating from college was all in the publishing industry, much of it working for a large conglomerate. Publishers use a lot of freelancers, and in my earlier years with the company, it was not at all unusual for freelancers to work on the premises. In the later years, however, as those in charge became more "stickler-ish," we were not permitted to allow freelancers to work in house. There were apparently a number of reasons, but one (I was told) was insurance. But there are much more obvious expenses when workers for one company work on the premises of another company. There is, most obviously, space. There are office services like garbage collection, restrooms, and so on. Do they use telephones? And of course there is record keeping.

          I don't pretend to know the answer of exactly what is the cost to Planned Parenthood of donating fetal tissue, but I know it is not zero, and that it is just nonsense to say that any abortion clinic or hospital or any medical organization that donates tissue is "doing nothing extra" and not incurring any costs.

          • materetmagistra

            @David Nickol: "Jill Stanek is simply not a credible voice to anyone who is not already a rabid opponent of abortion."

            The actual emails and video that are posted there are the important material. No, you do not need to accept her interpretation of the material, but you can still look at and comment on the material. Same as your link to "factcheck." Look at the material rather than the author's interpretation. Sorry I have to resort to someone like Jill Stanek, the MSM seems to be working hard at suppressing the story.

            @David Nickol: "There are office services like garbage collection, restrooms, and so on. Do they use telephones? And of course there is record keeping."

            Certainly one does not charge for those things, like space and phone and refuse, per type of tissue sample nor number of samples. Heck, if you are using the room you are using the room regardless of number of tissues you collect, eh? Why then a per item fee? And, at that, one need only figure out what one's own clinic's costs are, not ask around and "find out what other affiliates in California are getting."

            Regarding the "record keeping." Certainly Planned Parenthood is able to provide that in defense. Where might that defense be? Certainly that would be much easier and cheaper than hiring a top-dog Public Relations firm.

          • David Nickol

            As I have said before, if Planned Parenthood is asking and receiving too much in compensation for their role in tissue donation, they are breaking the law. It is a matter for law enforcement to take up with Planned Parenthood. (By the way, I believe I read that it is only in five or fewer states that PP affiliates take part in tissue donation. I will try to confirm that.) Do you really think you have the expertise to walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, examine its books, and decide what would be reasonable compensation for tissue donation? I certainly don't, although I will go so far as to say it is laughable that clinics involved in tissue donation don't do anything, and therefore any compensation is "profit."

            If the enemies of Planned Parenthood can't use law enforcement to nab PP for accepting too much compensation for tissue donation, then this is all a bogus attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. I'd be willing to bet a fairly hefty sum that whatever investigations are spurred by the hidden-camera videos result in no criminal charges. We shall see.

            I read one very interesting piece on a conservative site in which the author argued that this campaign against Planned Parenthood was misguided in that, from the pro-life point of view, it is what Planned Parenthood does legally that should be the focus of outrage. It is a rather trivial matter that a handful of clinics may be receiving overgenerous compensation for donating fetal tissue. Putting a stop to overcompensation for donated tissue—or even banning tissue donation altogether—will not prevent a single abortion.

          • materetmagistra

            Check out the new video - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-fifth-video-shows-planned-parenthood-official-saying-they-provide

            ----->As in the first video, Farrell goes to lunch with the team, stating that the fees paid for fetal body parts adds tremendous “diversification of the revenue stream” for the Planned Parenthood affiliate.

            The word is there are twelve videos. This is the fifth. How much harder is it going to be for you to keep promoting the "party line" that Palnned Parenthood is not breaking the law. For your sake, certainly you would promote a proper investigation into PP practices.

          • David Nickol

            For your sake, certainly you would promote a proper investigation into PP practices.

            To quote from one of my previous messages:

            As I have said before, if Planned Parenthood is asking and receiving too much in compensation for their role in tissue donation, they are breaking the law. It is a matter for law enforcement to take up with Planned Parenthood. (By the way, I believe I read that it is only in five or fewer states that PP affiliates take part in tissue donation. I will try to confirm that.)

            We now know that it is only some of the Planned Parenthood affiliates in three (not five) states who are involved in tissue donation. I think it would be a good thing for everyone involved if law enforcement did investigate those affiliates and their practices. What I object to is putting the matter before the public in such a biased and sensationalized manner when none of us are in a position to determine such things as the true cost of fetal tissue donation.

            I have no problem at all with requiring Planned Parenthood affiliates to obey any and all laws. The difference between us is that what you are really interested is not bringing a handful of affiliates into compliance with the law (if indeed they are not already in compliance). You are interested in shutting down the whole organization not for what some affiliates do that may be illegal, but what all affiliates do that is legal.

          • materetmagistra

            @David Nickol: "What I object to is putting the matter before the public in such a biased and sensationalized manner when none of us are in a position to determine such things as the true cost of fetal tissue donation."

            You are suggesting public officials always have the interests of their constituents at the fore? And that public outcry isn't useful?

            (1) Certainly investigate criminal wrongdoing.

            (2) Certainly protect public funds from those that would misuse them.

            (3) A question: If abortion is such little concern to Planned Parenthood [they claim women's health to be their primary concern], why does Planned Parenthood close centers when local/state laws impact performing abortions at those centers? If only 3% [their claim] of the services are abortions, and the clinic can still perform 97% of its "women's health services," why does Planned Parenthood close up clinics?

  • neil_pogi

    most scandinavians are atheists, that's why they permit all kinds of unethical and evil things, like abortion, selling of body parts, children dishonoring their parents, drugs, sex trades, among others. it's because their motto is: '"If God doesn't exist, everything is permitted." (
    Dostoevsky)

    - and yet they opposed to killing, stealing, raping, cheating, etc.

    • William Davis

      I'd like to see you substantiate some of those claims. Of course abortion is legal, it's legal in the entire western world (so is gay marriage at this point). Finland has the best education system in the world. The Philippine's has one of the worst. With you, it shows.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/finlands-education-system-best-in-world-2012-11?op=1

      http://southasia.oneworld.net/archive/globalheadlines/school-education-faces-worst-ever-crisis-in-philippines#.Vb1mJPlVhBc

      It isn't an accident that better education leads to less religion. Even though a large percentage of the population of Finland self identifies as Lutheran, these numbers are critical:

      According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll (2010),[12]

      33% of Finnish citizens "believe there is a God". (In 2005, the figure was 41%)

      42% "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force". (In 2005, the figure was 41%)

      22% "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". (In 2005, the figure was 16%)

      According to Zuckerman (2005),[13] 28-60% of Finns are agnostics, atheists, or non-believers.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Finland

      • neil_pogi

        quote: 'The Philippine's has one of the worst. With you, it shows.' -- here you are again filled with lavish personal attacks, and that makes you an idiot!
        what kind of education are you implying why Philippine educational system is very poor? you find filipinos all over the world, manning the sea, caring and healing the sick, and building edifices, bridges, towering buildings, etc!! nobody can do that if filipinos are elliterate!

        do you hate me? and the rest of 99,999,999 filipinos?

        • William Davis

          Of course I don't hate you, I just wish you were better educated so we could have a productive conversation ;)

          • neil_pogi

            why involve my country? why involve mycountry's educational system? you know nothing, so stop spreading your lies! you are not acting like a professional. anyway, are you a beast?

          • neil_pogi

            'better educated' ? -- in nursing school, evolution is not taught, and yet thousands of filipino nurses are found all over the world.

            in seaman's course, evolution is not taught, and half of all seafarers in the world are filipinos

            in medicine, evolution has nothing to do with the course medicine, and yet filipino doctors are to be found all over the world.

            then what about evolutionists and like you? what have you contributed to the betterment of this society and to the world? none except fairy tales

          • Doug Shaver

            in medicine, evolution has nothing to do with the course medicine, and yet filipino doctors are to be found all over the world.

            The Navy had me in school during most of 1966 learning electronics. Maxwell's equations were never mentioned in any of my classes. Without the discovery of those equations, though, modern electronics would never have been developed.

          • neil_pogi

            christians and believers in a god have established thousands of educational facilities, hospitals and researches in medicine, livelihood, inventions, among others.. while atheists didn't have any, at least one hospital, good doctors and medical team.. all they have is to complain, develop theories that are unfounded and untestable.. that's why almost 70% of all scientists and educators received prestigious Nobel prizes.

          • Doug Shaver

            christians and believers in a god have established thousands of educational facilities, hospitals and researches in medicine, livelihood, inventions, among others

            That is totally irrelevant to anything I have said.

          • neil_pogi

            quote: ' That is totally irrelevant to anything I have said' --. nope.. atheists claimed that religious people (ex: christianity) are idiots, uneducated, uninformed, etc.. Now i'm enumerating those christian's achievements for society!

          • Doug Shaver

            atheists claimed that religious people (ex: christianity) are idiots, uneducated, uninformed, etc.

            Some atheists have claimed that. Many have not. From what I have observed of conversations among hundreds of atheists, probably most have not said anything of the sort.

          • neil_pogi

            oh really? in this site alone, you will encounter them (kraker jack).. even the 4 top apologists of atheism (dawkins). so stop pretendng!

          • Doug Shaver

            oh really?

            Yes, really.

            in this site alone, you will encounter them (kraker jack).. even the 4 top apologists of atheism (dawkins).

            None of that contradicts what I said.

          • neil_pogi

            there are

          • Michael Murray

            while atheists didn't have any, at least one hospital, good doctors and medical team.

            You really do like making stuff up don't you Neil. Have a look here. I count 13 Nobel prizes in medicine.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

          • neil_pogi

            The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine,Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969.[3] Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals.[4]

            According to 100 Years of Nobel Prize (2005), a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000, 65.4% of Nobel PrizeLaureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference (423 prizes).[5] Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace,[6] 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics,[6] 62% in Medicine,[6] 54% in Economics[6] and 49.5% of all Literature awards.[6]

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_Nobel_laureates

          • Michael Murray

            Not so good with negating quantifiers are you ?

            Not (For All) = There Exists

            The number of Christians winning Nobels is not at issue. You said

            while atheists didn't have any, at least one hospital, good doctors and medical team.

            that no atheists have done anything for medicine. I only need to demonstrate 1 atheist doing something for medicine to disprove your statement.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It appears some of the studies also included scientists who later became atheists, but had a Christian background.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes some say that up front on the list and some of the claims just seem to be false. I picked two at random who the list claims are Roman Catholic but turn out not to be other that by baptism:

            Leggett:

            "I ceased to be a practicing Catholic in my early twenties,"

            Wilczek:

            "Another thing that shaped my thinking was religious training. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic. I loved the idea that there was a great drama and a grand plan behind existence. Later, under the influence of Bertrand Russell'swritings and my increasing awareness of scientific knowledge, I lost faith in conventional religion."

            That list seems to have a hefty dose of lying for Jesus.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Jesus: the end that justifies all means.

          • neil_pogi

            do you have any, at least, one atheist hospital? that's the issue! do you have any prestigious university? do you have any charitable works and institutions? none, and none will ever be!

          • Michael Murray

            What would fit your definition of an "atheist" hospital, charity or university ? Atheists aren't organised like religions. But what about any of the Chinese universities ?

          • neil_pogi

            so what about chinese? are you saying that chinese are atheists? only the chinese government is atheists. don't you know that millions and millions of chinese are worshipping God, not in public, but 'underground'?

            i haven't seen nor heard about atheists hospitals, charitable institutions and universities in the U.S. even if you claim that athiests are not organised (the fact that you have American Atheists, etc)

          • Michael Murray

            That was why I asked for a definition of atheist hospital which you never gave. If the government runs the hospital and the government is atheist doesn't that make the hospital atheist ? You tell me your definition.

            I'm not American.

          • neil_pogi

            the chinese government is an atheistic form of government. it demolishes any forms of religious organisation or fellowship. do atheist government hospitals in china admit religious individuals? i don't think so?

          • Michael Murray

            Tell me what you mean by an atheist hospital ?

          • neil_pogi

            a hospital owned and operated by atheists. doctors and health staff. just wonder if these staff will treat religious sick people.. or maybe these staff will tell them: 'pray to your Sky Daddy who brought you sickness and suffering'..

          • Michael Murray

            What about CARE Australia ?

            We value the operational freedom that stems from being a not-for-profit Australian agency which is independent of any religious or political affiliation and which does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion or politics.

            MSF ? Oxfam ?

          • neil_pogi

            so only one or two? are christians accepted there? or just pretension?

            thousands and thousands of christian hospitals, etc against your MSF, Oxfam, Care australia?

          • Michael Murray

            You really don't do logic do you. You claim there are no atheist charities. I have to show you one to disprove your claim. I show you three. You demand more.

            By the way those things I listed are charities not hospitals. You can check them on google. They help everybody regardless of gender, religion, etc, etc.

          • neil_pogi

            whatever you said, then atheists contribute very little in society..

      • neil_pogi

        quote: 'abortion is legal, it's legal in the entire western world ' -- what if the supreme court declares that killing and stealing are legalised? what would you do? are you going to kill me?

        quote: '..better education leads to less religion' - then how come that almost 70% of christian scientists have won the nobel prizes?

        i know you are also a believer in a God (but not of christian's god), then you are a some sort of religious person, then you considered yourself as an idiot!

    • Doug Shaver

      it's because their motto is: '"If God doesn't exist, everything is permitted." (
      Dostoevsky)

      - and yet they opposed to killing, stealing, raping, cheating, etc.

      That would be a contradiction, if it were their motto. But it is not their motto, and so there is no contradiction.

      • neil_pogi

        that's atheists motto, that's why they don't allow God to intervene in their lives. yes, they can do all, yes they want to be gods

        • Doug Shaver

          that's atheists motto,

          No, it's not. I have never heard a real atheist either say it or agree with it. Dostoevsky wrote a novel in which one of his fictional characters said it. So far as I'm aware, Dostoevsky himself didn't believe it.

          • neil_pogi

            why not interview him?
            why hate theists?
            why mock us?
            why ridicule us?
            if you have proofs that you have the truth, then provide evidences!

          • Doug Shaver

            why not interview him?

            You mean Dostoevsky? Why do you think I could?

            why hate theists?

            Why do you think I do?

            why mock us? why ridicule us?

            What have I said that you construe as mocking or ridiculing you?

            if you have proofs that you have the truth, then provide evidences!

            I will provide that evidence, on the day that I say, "I have proof that I have the truth."

          • neil_pogi

            quote: 'You mean Dostoevsky? Why do you think I could?' -- so that you 'll know the truth that he made that atheist's famous statement

            quote: 'Why do you think I do?' -- of course you do! all atheists are the same, either anti-theists or anti-God

            then prove your claims

  • Atheist Jurgen Habermas comes to mind here:

    Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love...we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage.

    I would go a step further. It's myopia to argue that we can "continue to draw on the substance" of such a vital heritage (e.g. Dawkins self-appropriating a pot-bellied "cultural Christianity" from the cozy confines of Oxford) with one hand, while shutting out and deconstructing that heritage at the deepest levels of human culture with the other. Big ships take a long time to sink. Will our children's children enjoy the freedom and "dignity" to self-appropriate anything except what corporate and political elites allow them to? Whose justice is "justice" when our inherited justice expires? A heritage is not a museum piece, but a lived reality - until it's not.

    We're Wile E. Coyote; a few mad dashes beyond the ledge and comically self-assured, with nothing but air under our feet. Do justice, rights, or truth have referents at all? Or are they a shared habitual language ripe for displacement? Leonard Cohen, in the True Detective anthem, whispers the truth about "truth" absent Truth: "there's truth that lives, and truth that dies, I don't know which, so nevermind." Or as another man put it: "Quid est veritas?"

    • David Hardy

      You seem to assume that we only draw on Christianity for our morality. Psychology includes significant research into the instinctive side of morality, moral reasoning, and what helps to promote pro-social thinking. Incidentally, some of this research aligns with moral principles within Christianity, as well as principles in several other religions. On that subject, do you think that the many cultures and religions not rooted in Christianity and/or something resembling the Christian concept of God are bereft of any foundation for or expression of justice?

    • George

      should we be afraid of the question "what is truth" because a villain of your tradition supposedly said it?

      "while shutting out and deconstructing that heritage at the deepest levels of human culture with the other."

      is it being shut out, or criticized and simply dropped? is it being deconstructed, or is it falling apart on its own before our inquiry?

      what is wrong, do you think, in following the facts IF the facts go beyond christianity? maybe the fruits of our society are here because people believed that the universe was created by a person who told everyone to love each other. I don't know. but do the Arguments from Ignorance given by theists to support the god claim, suddenly stop being Arguments from Ignorance, because I didn't grow up a baby-sacrificing pagan or self-mutilating slave-taking warrior? do the Special Pleading fallacies disappear? do the lies about atheists go away?

      should people be afraid they will automatically revert to a completely different value system (that sounds too weak. let's try "instinct" instead) if they realize that the story of the resurrection of Jesus is nothing more than hearsay?

      in your post, you are suggesting we need the narrative because it sustains the fruits we enjoy, and the fruits will wither without it. I ask, if Christianity is not The Truth, could it really have been what was sustaining our society? did we always need bad data and only that bad data? should we be bothered by such revelations, and change direction, even if we desire our current direction? what would make you want your family to be threatened by burglars for instance?

      "Big ships take a long time to sink."

      That depends on the damage of course! :) And also one must do a thorough inspection to make sure the bilge pump is doing its job, if the problem really is just some leaky seams. As for my fruit metaphor, I might be limiting my thoughts too much with it. I'm interested to hear what you have to say though.

  • Mike

    Without God anything is possible and indeed there can be no morality save for the morality of might makes right.

    • David Hardy

      While I just responded in a similar way to another person in this discussion, I am curious as to your response as well. Are you arguing that any culture or religion not based in something resembling the Christian concept of God is devoid of any moral principle aside from might makes right?

      • Mike

        Atheism is the philosophy of might makes right..there can be no grounding in something immaterial as "rights and justice" if atheism is true...if the atheists with the power say there is morality than it exists in their collective minds no more - if a new set comes to power a new set of "Values"will come in with it.

        There can be no "values"at all on atheism it is all just pure random bouncing of atoms devoid of any value at all.

        • David Hardy

          An interesting response, but not to the question I asked, so I will be more specific. In my exploration of Buddhism, as an example, I have found a detailed set of moral principles, none of which are grounded in a concept of God. Instead, they are grounded in observations of the unsatisfying nature of worldly pursuits, the negative consequences of obsessive pursing of pleasure and hostility to others, and the value of compassion in resolving suffering (especially in the Mahayana traditions). While some groups believe in gods, these are more similar to the concepts of gods in polytheistic faiths, not the transcendent Christian God, and communion with or obedience to these gods is not the goal. This indicates that at least one position not grounded in God has, nevertheless, developed an advanced moral position beyond "might makes right". I offer this as evidence that an atheistic position, as some forms of Buddhism are (Notably Theravada Buddhism, the earliest form still in existence), not grounded in a culture that has been strongly influenced by Christianity, can still develop an ethical position that goes beyond "might makes right". Do you disagree that Buddhism has a level of ethical reasoning beyond "might makes right", or that it does not ground itself in something other than a Christian-like God?

          • Mike

            Buddhism as atheism is smuggling in notions that it can not account for philosophically metaphysically. If bud. believes in a moral law somewhere out there so to speak then it should go a bit further and reason from that to God...from what i know of it it points to God but doesn't go that far. But it does seems to trick a lot of atheists into believing the impossible that you can have real morality without God.

          • David Hardy

            And yet, Buddhism for over two millennia has not reasoned to God, and has a metaphysics that many Buddhist do find accounts well for the universe, as well as a highly developed ethical system. I would humbly propose that Buddhism is an example of real morality without a concept of God. Christianity ties its ethics so closely to God as it conceives of it, perhaps this creates an illusion that it is only possible to have real morality with God.

          • Mike

            Let's put it this way if i had been born in a buddhist culture i would have become a buddhist. i only maintain initially that the most illogical and incoherent position is atheism/materialism/naturalism. Anything is a better explanation than those philosophies in my opinion.

            Buddhism has it's own shortfalls philosophically and yes i don't think that it ultimately can account coherently for objective morality IF it maintains there is no ultimate source of reality but that's another topic. I know a bit about buddhism bc it seems me that many atheists find solace in it.

          • David Hardy

            If you wouldn't mind another question or two, why must morality be objective to be coherent, true or philosophically explainable? Also, am I correct that by "objective" you mean clearly defined by and originating from a transcendent source?

          • Mike

            you can call a set of customs morality but what i mean by morality is an objective standard that applies at all times to all people. often i find atheists have a very fluid definition of morality - so what's good today may not be good tomorrow.

            the source ultimately has to be "external" to this world or as you put it "transcendent" BUT it need not be external to the thing it self. so what makes a good bird is "in" the bird so to speak, in its nature which ultimately derives from an external source but is in the bird's nature. human beings have a nature as well. some humans are missing a leg but we don't say oh there are now 2 types of human beings: 2 legged and 1 legged we say something went "wrong" and so on and so forth for all things.

            obviously today our culture the people in charge at the top deny that there is any such thing as a "nature" but that's another topic clearly.

            Ultimately let me put things this way: if there is no "external" source of right/wrong then i am by default the arbiter of good/evil and so are you and in that case what that MUST imho entail is might makes right bc there is nothing to appeal to outside you and me.

          • David Hardy

            Thank you for the clarification. I think I understand now. You are not saying that "might makes right" is a necessary principle within a moral system that does not involve God, but rather "might makes right" is the way in which morality will be expressed, with the moral system that is held by those with the most power being imposed through that power upon others. Is that correct?

          • Mike

            i don't think that's right.

            i think that objective morality is not possible without SOME "external" source whether it be "God" or some nebulous buddhist source or whatever but it has to be "outside" in some way otherwise all you get is circular reasoning and that imho always leads to might makes right. This is why atheism i believe can not say that anything is moral or wrong bc it denies the existence of external "rules" in the first place. But if it admits there are "rules" "out there" then it will be forced into some very uncomfortable position. So to maintain what it sees as consistency it denies objective morality while at the same time constantly haranguing religious folks for doing/believing "bad" things. In a word it is incoherent, imho.

          • David Hardy

            Okay, but what if morality is not fundamentally tied to rules? Other ethical systems exist, including those of attempting to reason from predicted consequences, or virtuous traits (intentions). Even most rule-based moral systems admit to exceptions to those rules in some cases, including these other factors of foreseeable consequences and intentions.

            For my part, I would say that the objective factor of morality is human nature. Morality appears to me to be tied to forming and maintaining social bonds. Humans, as social creatures, have an instinctive desire to act in ways that promote trust and reciprocal supportive behavior. What promotes pro-social behavior, however, is not a function of power. Having more power does not inherently inspire pro-social behavior in others, although they may align with the views of those with power, at least superficially. Therefore, from these observations, I can conclude, without God, that might does not make right, because might has no direct relation to whether an act performs the function of morality. In the same way, I can judge acts as good or bad in so far as how well they work with or against the effort to promote pro-social thinking and behavior. Mind you, this is not a hindsight judgment, but an evaluation of what the foreseeable consequences were, and the inherent pro- or anti- social nature of the act itself beyond the situational factors.

          • Mike

            sorry of course i don't really mean a pure rules based morality. i just said "rules" as a short hand for something objective not actually just a million rules or whatever.

            ok you think that morality is "good" instincts? yeah to me that's might makes right bc what if my instincts are to round up all illegals and ship them off in cattle cars across the ocean? What if my society works well that way?

            i think respectfully that your standard of "social cohesion/trust" or whatever is not a standard at all but a pie in the sky gut feeling that you feel somehow doesn't require "God".

            Don't forget that in the 40s many cultures thought their systems of social trust/cohesion were perfectly good, the millions of innocent victims notwithstanding.

            IF there is no ultimate external source of right and wrong then there really is no right and wrong and that means that if the rich and powerful want to kill all the poor and weak there then there is NOTHING AT ALL wrong with that and if you "FEEL" there is then you just need a really good beverley hills shrink to help you out of your guilt/delusion that what you did was somehow unjust.

          • David Hardy

            I am not sure how you dismiss pro-social versus anti-social behavior as not being a standard. All moral behavior can be judged by it with significant accuracy, from what I can tell. Therefore, it fits the definition of a standard.

            Also, I am not talking about individual gut feelings. I am talking about trends in feelings, thinking and behavior that are observed across the human species, as well as in a number of other species, to some extent. This is not a purely subjective force that can be brushed aside as meaningless. It is a near universal instinctive drive in the human species. It would be the same as saying hunger does not exist or is meaningless because some people willingly starve themselves to death (anorexics), or there is no universal source of what foods are best. There are real impulses towards right and wrong, and these are meaningful, and this does not change because there is no universal standard of how the instinct should be expressed.

            What is interesting is that you point yourself to the proof that this is the case, referring to the real instances where the moral instinct goes wrong in societies. This is because, like any instinct, it can go wrong, unlike what one might expect from something originating from a divine source. Many of the people in those societies engaging in behaviors you find abhorrent listened to their consciences, and it did not tell them it was wrong. In fact, a sense of moral justification can form the foundation of an atrocity. To me, you appear to simply be asserting that this reality of morality without God is too horrific for you to contemplate. You did not actually provide any reasons for how it is not reflective of reality.

          • Mike

            ok, thanks for the exchange...best of luck.

            ps are you an atheist and if so would you mind telling what kind? as there seem to be a few varieties.

          • David Hardy

            Best of luck to you as well.

            I am not sure what you mean specifically in terms of what kind of atheist. To try and answer, if you are looking for a way to classify my beliefs, Zen Buddhist would be best. However, I also accept philosophic skepticism as the best way to test whether a belief is true, and this includes an acceptance of scientific research and the primacy of empirical study. In particular, Psychology also helps guide my understanding of human nature and spirituality.

            As a question in response, what kind of theist are you? I am guessing a Christian, but what form?

          • Mike

            interesting thanks...my older brother dabbled in buddhism before getting into, well drugs.

            Anyway i like to think of my self as a practicing catholic although i only got more interested in it in the last 5 years or so...before that shortly after college and during it was what i call a cultural atheist, a secularist, a hedonistic yuppie-fied lefty living on the east coast who used to laugh at conservatives etc etc. - a typical urban liberal you might say.

            But i was raised nominally catholic by a lapsed catholic mother and a free-spirit catholic father was a major sinner but who believed (but didn't practice) in everything the church taught; my parents were divorced by the time i was 7.

          • David Hardy

            Thank you for the clarification, and perhaps we will have a chance to discuss other topics here. You seem to have a strong sense of ethics and a great deal of passion about your beliefs.

          • Mike

            thanks, yes. and you too...take care and all the best.

        • Doug Shaver

          There can be no "values" at all on atheism

          I am an atheist. I have values. Therefore, you are mistaken.

          • Mike

            no "YOU" have values but you are not atheism; so that makes perfect sense that you would have them but i don't think atheism can have them aside from might makes right.

            plus if atheism is true whatever values you have are really just sophisticated examples of might makes right.

          • Doug Shaver

            "YOU" have values but you are not atheism

            In that case, belief in God must be irrelevant to the existence of values.

          • Mike

            yes of course.

          • Doug Shaver

            In that case, your observation that There can be no "values" at all on atheism is vacuous.

          • Mike

            no it isn't bc if atheism is true there can be no values but even if you don't believe in God he exists and therefore values can and do exist.

            see you value many things but are a materialist which is a contradiction except that you are wrong about materialism...anyway we're just repeating ourselves.

          • Doug Shaver

            if atheism is true there can be no values

            That isn't true just because you say it is.

          • Mike

            of course not it is true given the nature of atheism; if there is no other reality ie god or whatever and if there is no afterlife and if materialism is true then by definition morality is a perhaps useful grand delusion but an illusion none the less.

            ok take care doug and have a nice weekend.

          • Doug Shaver

            it is true given the nature of atheism;

            Why should anybody think you know anything about the nature of atheism?

            Suppose a Protestant were to tell me the following: "Catholics worship Mary as a goddess. They also have to do whatever the pope tells them to do, because they believe they will burn in hell if they don't." Suppose furthermore that I then asked a Catholic, "Is this true?" and they say, "Of course not. We do not worship Mary, and we don't have to accept everything the pope says." And then suppose the Protestant says to me: "They have to say that, but it's a lie. What I said is the truth." And now: If I sincerely want to understand Catholicism, whom do you think I should trust, and why do you think I should trust them more than I trust the other one?

          • Mike

            yeah but you folks are materialists - and hence you by definition eliminate most of actual real life - you folks believe you are nothing but material and material without any telos to boot!

          • Doug Shaver

            but you folks are materialists

            No, not all atheists are materialists. For the moment, though, I'll pretend we are.

            - and hence you by definition eliminate most of actual real life

            Quote me a definition of materialism from any standard dictionary and show me how it logically entails the elimination of any portion of real life.

          • Mike

            you folks smuggle in the things your philosophy denies but we've gone down this road before.

          • Doug Shaver

            you folks smuggle in the things your philosophy denies

            It's my philosophy. I know what it denies or does not deny.

            but we've gone down this road before.

            You remind me of certain Protestants who think they know Catholicism better than Catholics. They say you worship Mary, and they keep on saying it no matter how many times you tell them, "No, we don't."

          • Mike

            ok doug, do you believe reality is more than "material": yes or no?

          • Doug Shaver

            It depends on what you call material. I believe everything that exists in this universe is either matter or energy.

          • Mike

            is it ONLY matter and energy though or can it be described solely in terms of matter and energy?

          • Doug Shaver

            or can it be described solely in terms of matter and energy?

            We should probably be a little more specific than that. Some real things exist as particular configurations of matter and energy. That's why you can't make a living organism just by mixing its constituent chemicals together. Those chemicals, in order to be alive, have to be arranged into a very particular configuration. At this moment in our history, we have no idea how to get those chemicals into that configuration except to allow the natural reproductive process to occur.

        • Doug Shaver

          Atheism is the philosophy of might makes right

          Atheism is not a philosophy of anything.

          • Mike

            i'd say atheism is a philosophy of Nothing ;)

          • Doug Shaver

            It is not a philosophy.

          • Mike

            it's a go it alone view of life...it's sad, i really believe that.

          • Doug Shaver

            Atheism is not a view of life. It can be a part of someone's view of life.

          • Mike

            it seems to occupy a disproportionately big space in non believers lives imho ;)

          • Phil Rimmer

            Some of you lot seriously _____ things up for other people, with your (detailed!) News from Nowhere. Those of us not bound by the code of honour amongst theists feel obliged to argue from bald reason and evidence, in an effort to fix things.

          • Mike

            ok keep up the good work comrade.

          • Doug Shaver

            Many things are not as they seem.

          • Mike

            oh come one when isn't a non believer not talking about christians...really they are obsessed well where i live that's always the angle.

          • Doug Shaver

            when isn't a non believer not talking about christians

            That depends on the nonbeliever. I've known many who have zero interest in talking about Christians. Chances are, you know some yourself, but you don't know they're nonbelievers because they don't talk about it. Unless you ask them to, of course. Do you ask everyone you know for their opinion of Christianity? Of all the people you're acquainted with, do you know exactly how many are atheists and which ones they are?

          • Mike

            in fairness most of my acquaintances are secularists/atheists lite who NEVER think about religion except to mock/ridicule a christianity, say something polite about hinduism or buddhism and quietly whisper how barbaric islam is but in public if asked about islam 99% of them say it's no different than christianity so don't be a islamophobe.

          • Doug Shaver

            We're all at least a little bit tribalistic. Whichever group we identify with in a particular conversational context, our human nature includes a tendency to denigrate people outside the group. Like any other tendency, it can be resisted, and a few people resist it better than most other people. I know of no reason to think atheists should outperform other groups in this regard.

          • Phil Rimmer

            No. Atheism, is where we can all meet...

            You didn't want to take me up on why our morality is mammal and deeper rooted than you can begin to imagine. 100 million years in the making...

          • Mike

            what's been making our morality? matter? gravity? i don't understand why you seem to believe in some "force" that is reshaping matter from simple molecules, to more complex to plant to animal and then to us? what is this thing? does it have a goal? it seems to "reward" life doesn't it?

            see i think you believe in magic. you believe there is some thing called "evolution" which magically causes matter to get more and more complex. but as this "thing" has no point as you say then by definition you and me are an accident a quirk totally bereft of any meaning at all.

            BTW i believe evolution actually does have a telos/direction it very definitely "wants" life and life abundantly.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Your personal incredulity counts for nothing in the face of evidence and no evidence, all in my favour.

            You could read all about it if you wanted to, but you "know" already.

            Enjoy your feelings. Keep them safe.

          • Mike

            lol ok thanks you too, enjoy the weekend.

          • Doug Shaver

            [Deleted]

          • Phil Rimmer

            I declared for atheism as opposed to being a happy indifferent agnostic back around 2004 to 2006 to improve the quality of my moral life. I realised that atheism allowed the clearing out of a lot of spurious and occasionally immoral noise in my deliberations. Yes I was concerned about the scientific lies some religions spread but I took this to be a moral issue too.

            Clearing the decks to see the harms more clearly and without the ancient blinders, was fantastic. I discovered a change in how I viewed various groups, no longer as outsiders. I even discovered an active liking of more religious groups for the way they did things. My moral life had greater integrity with my life.

            Atheism at most is a use once broom to sweep away supernatural clag.

          • Mike

            i believe you i think that you're brand of atheism, cultural atheism i call it, i was a cul. atheist for all of my 20s can feel very very liberating; it felt that way for me.

            But i think it is ultimately empty and of course morally bankrupt but that you know already.

            Anyway glad that you found something that helped you "clear your head" and view things in a new light even if it was "atheism".

          • Phil Rimmer

            Nothing cultural about it..

            Cultural atheism? What on earth is that?

          • Mike

            secular political lefty humanism northeast coast variety where religion is an icky word and everything trendy on the left political agenda is sacrosanct.

          • Phil Rimmer

            My moral aesthetics are left of centre, but I count myself capitalist with a mild dose of anarchist to keep things bubbling. I'm a flat out anti idealist (no that isn't self refuting). I mostly loathe those on the left for their failures of skepticism and dozy ignorance of how things could possibly work.

            Atheism has nothing to do with this lot.

            I espouse mere Betterism.

          • Mike

            ok that sounds interesting...have a nice weekend.

            btw i do this in between analyzing financial statements so i apologize if i am not 100% clear sometimes.

          • Doug Shaver

            that you know already.

            What I know is: that is what you say.

          • Mike

            are you more than just atoms doug, ultimately is there anything more that is also real and objective about you or are you ultimately just a unique arrangement of atoms?

          • Doug Shaver

            are you ultimately just a unique arrangement of atoms?

            Yes. And so what? Maybe I wish I were something more, but why should think that the universe cares about my wishes?

          • Mike

            you see that's my point exactly and then you tell me that you can value things and that atheism is not empty...you can't have it both ways!!!! damn it! LOL

            look atheists today i believe are still just liberal christians all protestations notwithstanding imho.

          • Mike

            btw the universe you are correct doesn't care bc it's not a "person" it's as YOS says a mere-ological sum of things but the entity that created it cares very much - he sent his only son to die for it.

            ok take care.

    • George

      might makes right is the argument used to justify god doing anything he wants.

      • Mike

        don't worry you don't think he exists so go ahead do anything you want - there is no afterlife no heaven no hell nothing you're just a fluke a trillion atoms that call themselves George - your so-called life is no more worthwhile than a rock's...all there is is this reality and all the different life forms etc. are just flukes cosmic accidents totally bereft of meaning of value.

        how you folks can live with that nonsense in your head i'll never know.

        • Doug Shaver

          how you folks can live with that nonsense in your head i'll never know.

          We don't live with that nonsense in our heads. Maybe that's why you can't know how we do it.

      • materetmagistra

        George, when you are the Creator, when you are omnipotent, you MAKE the Right.

        • George

          Why? Says who? :)

          • materetmagistra

            Human reason. Using logic.

            You would make the argument that a Creator would not also be Omnipotent?

    • Phil Rimmer

      Without God, without the discounting of harms by some imagined restitution to come, true compassion can flourish. Scandiwegia is not a hell hole, far from it. We are wired for compassion from bottom to top. From our mirror neurons and their early founding of mind reading and a visceral empathy, super-added to a cultural detailing by mothers of their infants (this, just in)

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150727095915.htm

      Our skill of reasoning and modelling in the cortex, which output is fed back at super speed by spindle cells to our anterior cingulate cortex to detect conflicts between our animal and thoughtful selves and stop us doing something rash. Taking pleasure with oxytocin now signalling all potentially to be as-if-kin if we train each other into a rewarding emotional reciprocity. I walk into my corner shop and come out with a smile, set up for the day. This is the clever dust our cultures work with to enhance our flourishing, and only the mutual flourish in the long run.

      • Mike

        who/what wired us for "compassion"? it wasn't natural selection was it?

        What is that symbol on each of the flags of norway, sweden, finland and denmark? is it a christian cross? Gee how come the USA doesn't get a cross on its flag if Sweden and England can have one!

        "by mothers of their infants"? What about kids raised by only men? do mothers have something "special" to give to their children that say 2 men don't?

        What if an entire culture's "flourishing" is based on denying basic rights to weaker cultures? are they "bad" or just "different" if we're all just our wiring and nothing else.

      • materetmagistra

        Can you explain how one identifies " true compassion"??

        • Phil Rimmer

          A compassion that seeks restitution or some mitigation for the living.

          • materetmagistra

            Is that missing a word?

          • Phil Rimmer

            It is, thanks.

            "for" added.

          • materetmagistra

            Phil, you say, "Without God, without the discounting of harms by some imagined restitution to come, true compassion...a compassion that seeks restitution or some mitigation of harms for the living...can flourish."

            "....for the living....."

            What does that mean?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Whilst people are still alive.

            Its an extension of Francis Bacon's point that all legal, civic and moral actions can be performed by an atheist and that inclusion of any supernatural considerations will be to their detriment. The extension being that an atheist will seek to achieve a righting of wrongs in the here and now rather than countenance some divine postmortal restitution.

          • materetmagistra

            @Phil Rimmer: "...an atheist will seek to achieve a righting of wrongs in the here and now..."

            That sure is daft. As if Christians do not practice compassion. As if Christians are not called to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Compassion literally means to "suffer with." This means more than simply being kind - this means giving of oneself for the others' true good: Love your neighbor as you love your self.

            Question, though - how does an atheist recognize that a "wrong" has been "righted"?

          • Phil Rimmer

            "As if Christians do not practice compassion."

            I never said they didn't but some Christians meet my and Francis Bacon's preferred standards. Catholics don't. I tend to champion the UK Quakers as the moral exemplars for us all. They have it that it is they must detect and work to allay harms, not via some man-mediated look up table of harms, because the table is ever incomplete, but using their Inner LIght their God given minds they are fully equipped to do this. Not only are they fully equipped, but it is their duty to act. It is their daily due diligence. They recognise that a failure to mitigate harms through inaction is as bad as committing harms.

            Following instructions isn't the moral development free will is meant to foster. It is a crass impoverishment of a morality that could have grown into the very fibre of your everyday existence instead of a self serving obediance.

            Catholics by co-opting man-mediated ideas of the supernatural are licensed to ignore harms to those (lets pick, gay folk) deemed disordered and of whom a smiley, "loving", pity is the most they can muster, with the comment that if they can keep their lonely hands of each other God's grace will be their reward, once dead.

            Truly moral folk seek not to provide supernatural restitution only. For harms in the here and now mitigate in the here and now as best you can. The Quakers ground breaking paper on the plight of the UKs benighted homosexual community in 1963 continued their sterling work on legal reform. The epitome of Enlightenment Thinking, they had profound effect on the 1967 legislation that followed.

            Quakers know I am built the same as them. Good Christian Francis Bacon's caveat is aimed at you.

          • materetmagistra

            ...but using their Inner LIght their God given minds they are fully equipped to do this...

            Hitler's Inner Light seems to have been a bit dim. As well as Stalin's and Pol Pot's, etc. Certainly not every Inner Light illumines that which is true. And, the false compassion promolgated by such minds in the end produces true harms to human beings, as opposed to bringing true good.

            ...but it is their duty to act. It is their daily due diligence. They recognise that a failure to mitigate harms through inaction is as bad as committing harms.

            All that seems to be right in line with Catholic Church teaching:

            2072 Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.

            2196 The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

            1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how "to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse." This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: "Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it."

            ...instead of a self serving obediance.

            But, that's just it. The Catholic is called to love one's neighbor as one loves one's self. You are serving yourself as you serve another [and you're even serving God, too!]. Exactly what G.K.Chesterton refers to as a paradox.

            You write, "Truly moral folk seek not to provide supernatural restitution only. For harms in the here and now mitigate in the here and now as best you can."

            Catholics cover all the bases - being called to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. I know of no Catholic who would not be obligated to love his neighbor here on earth. [The Catholic understanding of love is to will the good of another.] Your claims are unfounded and laughable.

          • Phil Rimmer

            All idealisms are necessarily witless, unable to finesse themselves in the face of harms they cause. You stand with the infallible idealists.

            Sociopaths are a problem for you and me both.

            You do like to clothe yourself in warm goodness.

            Many Catholics do indeed seem much more humane than their idealist Church.

            But you have studiously avoided my and Francis's point. You manufacture guilt from the supernatural and you provide phantom restitution all too often (per the example.) You could, though, simply acknowledge that you cannot achieve Francis Bacon's standard of excellence and argue he is wrong. Homosexuals shouldn't have sex, because the bible/God. They must be celibate to save themselves from postmortal misery.

            Edit. The "only" in the second quote you have of mine is entirely unintended.

          • materetmagistra

            Catholics by co-opting man-mediated ideas of the supernatural are licensed to ignore harms to those (lets pick, gay folk) deemed disordered and of whom a smiley, "loving", pity is the most they can muster, with the comment that if they can keep their lonely hands of each other God's grace will be their reward, once dead.

            "Man-mediated ideas..." What a riot your thinking is. What about those Quakers - "they must detect and work to allay harms....using their Inner LIght their God given minds..." What is that if not "man-mediated ideas"?

            ...ignore harms to those (lets pick, gay folk) deemed disordered and of whom a smiley, "loving", pity is the most they can muster, with the comment that if they can keep their lonely hands of each other God's grace will be their reward, once dead.

            (1) The Catholic Church certainly does not deem people who find themselves attracted to those of the same sex as disordered. From the Catechism:
            2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

            (2) The person with these inclinations most certainly will benefit himself in the here and now by living chastely, as will everyone [everyone is called to chastity.]

            2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

            The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.

            The integrity of the person

            2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.125

            2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."127

            More about passions and the moral life: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a5.htm

          • Phil Rimmer

            "What is that if not "man-mediated ideas"?

            Get the quote right and you might begin to understand. I've repeated it several times now.

            man-mediated ideas of the supernatural.

            This list of stuff is precisely what I'm talking about. Thank you. It stands in stark contrast to the thinking of Quakers, which for any substantive moral view in these matters is pretty much indistinguishable from those of educated humanists. Though it would be entirely false to think they were not deeply pious and see themselves in close communion with their God. It is not their business to presume to mediate between Him and others, like other busy bodies manufacturing a little extra spurious misery for folk.

            So you'll have noticed Quakers don't presume such certainty of God's intentions and need for such diligent policing of bedroom affairs. Indeed their thoughts, focus on love and companionship and closeness and never ever for a moment that this or that individual has been has been selected for trial by abstinence.

            Christians think like me as well as like you. The dividing line between us is closer to you than you think?

  • I don't know if this article is meant for atheists, but since I do not believe in anything I would call a "god", I obviously don't share his view of "dignity". I don't know what people actually mean when they speak of dignity. Saying is is a function of status of a relationship with a God sheds little light on what is meant. I can say that in my jurisdiction, this concept of human dignity as underlying human rights has proven so vague and difficult to apply that it has begun to drop out of the analysis.

    I also do not consider abortion to be killing human beings. But it should be noted that this concept of dignity underlies arguments for both sides of the abortion debate, with pro choice protesting depriving the right to choose is an affront to the dignity of women, prolife arguing allowing abortion is an affront to the dignity of the unborn.

    Finally, I don't see societies that have moved away from religion as becoming less moral or worse in terms of human rights, quite the opposite. We have both secular and religious societies around the world violating human rights. But it is in the most secular societies that we find the forefront of human rights.

    By contrast, when we look at the most religious societies, specifically Islamic, but also Christian societies today, but particularly in the past, we find things like torture, autocracy, wars, subjugation of women, the ostracizing of minorities and so on.

  • Mila

    Babies are sold to companies for anti-aging products!!!

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/3/aborted-fetus-cells-used-in-anti-aging-products/?page=all

    Thank God that the PP videos expose their human butchery. Now in Latin America they lost tremendous grounds to push their killing agenda at the US tax dollar expense.

    Always expect the worst from an organization that was founded by an eugenicists who had close relations with the SS eugenicist.

    "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population." Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, 1939

    How do some well-meaning people or nice people can still support this organization or the practice of abortion at all? How does someone loses so much the path that they can convince themselves that such evil is actually not evil? Jennifer Fulwiler answered this question perfectly for me.

    "I was reading yet another account of the Greek societies in which newborn babies were abandoned to die, wondering to myself how normal people could possibly accept something like that. Then, a chill tore through my body as I thought:

    I know how they did it.

    I realized in that moment that perfectly good, well-meaning people -- people like me -- can support gravely evil things through the power of lies. From my own experience, I knew how the Greeks, the Romans, and people in every other society could put themselves into a mental state that they could leave a newborn child to die: The very real pressures of life -- "we can’t afford another baby," "there's no dowry for another girl," "this disability would overwhelm us" -- left them susceptible to that oldest of temptations: To dehumanize other human beings. Though the circumstances were different, it was the same process that had happened with me, with the concurring Supreme Court Justices in Stenberg v. Carhart, the abortion doctors, the entire pro-choice movement, and anyone else who's ever been tempted to dehumanize inconvenient people."

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/why-my-support-for-abortion-was-based-on-loveand-lies

  • materetmagistra
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  • You attribute increased killing to less faith in God. Leaving aside moral issues over euthanasia and abortion, I don't think that holds up. People killed to a great degree in the days when faith in God was almost universally unquestioned. They still do in those parts of the world where the faith remains this entrenched. Indeed, the rate of killing seems to have actually gone down in many societies that you condemn. If it's level or slightly higher, the difference is not apparently so great. This is not even to mention of course the times when faith in God has itself sanctioned killing. As for the ethics, I find reciprocity enough.