Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Raise your right hand, Mr. Windsor

Continuing with Scott Windsor:
No matter how *I* answer, you will try to find fault with it because, as you stated, your mission is to sow discord - not healing.
I guess I need to spell it out for you. Here's what you need to say.

---
I, Scott Windsor, am appalled at:
1) the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy's obvious and obstinate refusal to accomplish biblical New Testament church discipline by insisting Pelosi repent in a reasonably brief amount of time and formally excommunicating her if she refuses;
2) the Pope's going so far as even to serve the Eucharist to her recently; and
3) the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy's refusal to make something so clearly necessary and exemplary happen, even if it should mean the disciplining of the priest, bishop, and archbishop, and anyone else clogging up the works, in order that the Church's witness be not tainted by appeasing political power that prefers to murder babies than to admit it is wrong.

In light of these facts, I, Scott Windsor, state unequivocally that the Roman Catholic Church has in modern times done much to change its reputation as unabashedly pro-life, though it claims that its pro-life stance is unchanged. I call upon the Church to do what it should do, and contend firmly that it must change, now, or else stand in direct opposition to God's clear command.
---/---

I don't think that's too much to ask. I'm not even sure leaving the church for one who actually does what it says with respect to baby-murder is too much to ask. Question is, do you have the guts to do it?

22 comments:

CathApol said...

As I stated on the other blog you posted this "script" on - I will not be yielding to your script. I have said what needs to be said regarding Speaker Pelosi and her bishop. Even accepting that both Speaker Pelosi and her bishop are dead wrong about this - your position is NOT against the Church as a whole, but against these individuals IN the Church.

Nice try, but your argumentation is so far off-base that a slow underhand toss is all it takes to throw "out" your position.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Edward Reiss said...

I don't think the argument is "way off base". (I also wish there was less chest thumping by all parties...) As I have pointed out before, it would be a lot easier to stomach the arguments mitigating errors such as giving "pro choice" pols communion in a public mass if every argument by RCs didn't boil down to "We are the Church, submit!" Physician, heal thyself.

However, no RC can say "I call upon the Church to do what it should do, and contend firmly that she must change, now, or else stand in direct opposition to God's clear command". To do so is to cease to be RC, a usurpation of authority and a protestant view of ecclesiology forced upon a RC apologist; for how can the Church be the Church is it, as Church, stands opposed to the commands of God? If the RCC is not *the* Church, there isn't one--unless one has a Reformation view of the Church.

Also, if a RC apologist ever said such a thing, the parallels with Luther would be too obvious, and undermine the constant appeals to authority--the prot argument writes itself, as I showed above.

Basically, I think we should take our half a loaf and rejoice that Scott has publicly stated he thinks a bishop is wrong. (And from an objective standpoint I agree with him!) I do not think that this would entail his making a statement which would mean he is no longer RC, though th eantics of these pols and their panty-waist bishops does make it more difficult to argue that we should simply follow the Majesterium's leadership and avoid "private judgement".dings

Burk Braun said...

Baby murder indeed. Next you will be hounding sperm murderers.

Oh, wait, no- that would be inconvenient for men. Egg murder- Yes, that's what should come next ... Yes! Death to egg murderers!

CathApol said...

Edward,
Thank you for what you said. I maintain that Alan's statements are off-based for a couple reasons, which I will calmly lay out:

1) An errant bishop does not make the Church's position on this matter in error.

2) The casting of libelous accusations without proper documentation (quotes with valid and verifiable citation) is about as un-Christian as one can be.

On my blog Alan posted the same script. As you rightly pointed out, not only do I refuse to "sign on" to Alan's script - to do so would be wrong of me to make such a definitive public statement against an archbishop who is not even my superior. It is wrong to willfully cause scandal, but as Alan has already admitted to on my blog, that's part of his motive. One of his goals, which again he himself has affirmed, is to sow discord.

Also, I agree with you about the "chest thumping." For whatever part of that I am guilty of, I apologize.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Rhology said...

Burk,

That's THE dumbest pro-baby-murder argument I've ever heard. You really don't know that virtually everyone in the pro-life side holds that life begins at conception?

Burk Braun said...

Hi, Rhology-

Life is continuous, cycling on and on through the generations. What is pathetic is mistaking your arbitrary premise for "truth"- something to hang your hat on.

You may not be fully conscious of the mysogynistic dimensions of the so-called "pro-life" position. For it puts the burden for its arbitrary ideology on women. An ideology that makes the convenience and fecundity of men its point. Rape? No problem. Incest? No problem. The magic threshold of forced or mistaken conception makes everything sacred and beautious. And ending the self-determination of a woman, well, no harm in that, since she didn't have anything else to do with her own life and fate anyhow.

Better that the clergy and state coerce her to do what they want, rather than allowing her to do what she wants. It is a simple contest of wills- of a woman in desperate circumstances vs the patriarchial order, hiding behind the skirts of innocent (and in this case unconscious) youth, so to speak. Funny how religious families, when one of their own gets inconveniently pregnant, often find themselves in a rather hypocritical situation.

Carrie said...

Burk,

Thanks for your concern for women. Does that concern extend to female fetuses?

Burk Braun said...

Hi, Carrie-

An excellent question. My concern does extend to female fetuses, and male as well, in equal measure. It is calibrated to the differentiation and consciousness of that fetus- its position on the path from a cell to a sentient object of moral concern, i.e. a person. I agree with policies that make third trimester (even second trimester) abortions more difficult than first trimester abortion, going by that scale.

The point is that our policies have to be modeled on reality (i.e. biology and our moral senses), not on arbitrary, ideological, and frankly patriarchal points of imaginary sacredness, viz- the putative origin of life.

That doctrine descends from the idea of god blowing a soul into the fertilized egg, which is simply ludicrous and entirely imaginary, not to mention beside the point. Since god would, under that theory, be blowing souls into countless eggs, only to kill them later on in the many accidents of early development.

And can't we let god take care of his own problems? If he is so concerned about fetuses, then perhaps he would guide all youngsters a bit more carefully, as well as perfecting the developmental process, among many other issues. The whole idea of not daring to disturb the course of nature is a mistaken, and regressive, philosophy.

L P said...

Rhology,

I don't think that's too much to ask

No, indeed.

Unfortunately, even a simple thing like that cannot be accorded to by fides difensor of Mother Church.

LPC

Andrew said...

Burk said: What is pathetic is mistaking your arbitrary premise for "truth"

Burk, how do you know that the premises from which you start are "truth"?

Burk Braun said...

Hi, Andrew-

I was not defending my own premises, only pointing out the the premise that "life" -as a marker of moral care- starts at conception is full of holes.

In biological terms, life is ongoing, from one generation to the next. For the individual, conception marks the combination of two living cells into a new cell- microscopic, possessed of no feelings, and no one's idea of a "person" which I think is the agreed standard of moral care.

So there is no justification for such a black/white threshold, other than ideological ones that arise neither from biology nor from carefully considered ethics.

EA said...

"I was not defending my own premises, only pointing out the the premise that "life" -as a marker of moral care- starts at conception is full of holes.
"


So a "human life" at conception "premise" is "full of holes" in your opinion, but a "third trimester marker" is not?

Since you seem to claim that this approach is more "scientific", can you please refer me to the body of scientific evidence that proves that "moral care" ought to begin in the "third trimester".

Thanks

Rhology said...

For it puts the burden for its arbitrary ideology on women.

I have no idea what you mean. It's not pro-lifers' fault that women carry babies in their uteruses. Pro-lifers simply object to said tiny humans being murdered.


Rape? No problem. Incest? No problem.

You're clearly just here to provoke and make stupid strawmen arguments. Try interacting with real pro-life arguments sometime. And make sure you provide us with some way by which you know, as an atheist, that rape and incest are actually wrong. Based on previous convos we've had, I know you can't. Ta ta.

Andrew said...

I understood you point well enough Burk. Why are our premises arbitrary and yours aren't? This is off topic, but that's not something that seems to bother you; so how do you know whether your premises are real, rock solid, base level premises, or just arbitrary opinions based on your preference?

Turretinfan said...

I read this: "You may not be fully conscious of the mysogynistic dimensions of the so-called "pro-life" position. For it puts the burden for its arbitrary ideology on women. An ideology that makes the convenience and fecundity of men its point. Rape? No problem. Incest? No problem. The magic threshold of forced or mistaken conception makes everything sacred and beautious. And ending the self-determination of a woman, well, no harm in that, since she didn't have anything else to do with her own life and fate anyhow."

1) Saying that a woman can't kill her children isn't an endorsement of the way in which the children came to be. We condemn not only rape and incest, but every kind of fornication and sexual impurity. Nevertheless, we don't usually think killing children for the sins of their parents is justified.

It would be one thing if the death of the child were designed to be a punishment on the guilty party, but in a society where rape is not a capital offense, it makes little sense to impose capital punishment on the seemingly less guilty offspring of the crime.

Furthermore, in the case of non-rape incest, the death of the child is simply for the convenience of at least one of the guilty parties - something that makes even less sense.

2) Just because one doesn't have the right to kill one's child doesn't make "everything sacred and beautious." This kind of rhetoric simply demonstrates an inability to think rationally about the subject.

3) There is a burden imposed on a woman by preventing her from killing her child. Nevertheless, giving birth to a child is a burden that billions of women have born. To the extent it is viewed as an inconvenience, it is one that lasts less than a year.

4) The idea that preventing a woman from killing her offspring is "ending the self-determination of a woman" is more inflated rhetoric. Not only is self-determination an illusion (a point we could explore at greater length), but let's assume it is real for the sake of the argument.

Excepting rape, saying that preventing a woman from killing her child is "ending" her "self-determination" is like saying that preventing a person from walking out of a store without paying is ending their self-determination. Yes, it imposes a consequence for action (if you have intercourse, and get pregnant, you have to carry the child to term), but so do lots of things in life. The fact that things have consequences is not the end of self-determination.

In the case of rape, the person who ended the woman's self-determination in this limited way is the rapist, not the state that prevents the woman from killing her child. If you want to punish rape more harshly, be my guest. I'm all in favor of that.

5) It is remarkable that there is a correlation between support for infanticide (as long as the child is not born yet) and opposition to capital punishment. Chew on that.

Burk Braun said...

Hi, EA, Andrew, and Turretinfan-

Thanks for your interest!

As for my premises, I am using a concept of personhood as a criterion of moral care. Morals are social feelings and customs that promote our ability to form a society. Amorality leads to anarchy, among many other ills. None of you have referred to the "potential" of an embryo to be a person, which is a good thing, since such arguments lead us down the path of "every sperm is sacred", etc. So the better approach is to evaluate the actual moral status of the organism at issue.

We kill many sentient beings for our eating pleasure. Thus we surely do not have any blanket taboo on killing organisms with feelings, capacity for suffering, and a claim on our moral sympathy. The question then becomes where a fetus/egg/embryo lies in this spectrum of moral concern, assuming that we are concerned with all beings that suffer in a way that we recognize, both instinctively and ethically, as subjectively "bad".

That is were we come to the very rough trimester system, where the first represents no sentience whatever, the second represents more, and the third represents quite a bit. You might be interested to know that even the church has taken quite various views of the issue. There is obviously some arbitrariness to these distinctions, but they accord far more closely to our moral sense and duties (and biology) than does a magical threshold at conception.

One corollary is that the word "murder" is being thrown around far too freely in some of the above discussion. "Murder" implies a person being murdered, with all the moral development, duties, and connections associated with personhood. That simply is not the case in early embryonic development. Parents are free to form one-way moral associations with their embryos/fetuses, as they are with pets, pet rocks, etc., but these are not reciprocated and certainly needn't be codified or state-enforced.

..cont..

Burk Braun said...

Let me respond to one argument:

"Excepting rape, saying that preventing a woman from killing her child is "ending" her "self-determination" is like saying that preventing a person from walking out of a store without paying is ending their self-determination. Yes, it imposes a consequence for action (if you have intercourse, and get pregnant, you have to carry the child to term), but so do lots of things in life. The fact that things have consequences is not the end of self-determination.

In the case of rape, the person who ended the woman's self-determination in this limited way is the rapist, not the state that prevents the woman from killing her child. If you want to punish rape more harshly, be my guest. I'm all in favor of that."


There is a difference between accepting consequences and imposing unnecessary consequences. In the era of modern abortion, certainly of the first trimester variety, telling a woman that the state prevents her from seeking that abortion because an ideology that she clearly does not share and a morality guided by openly religious sources (that she also does not share) decrees that such abortions be illegal, despite their minor moral (to most) and medical implications ... is plainly using the state to enforce theology upon the unwilling, particularly upon women.

Secondly, whatever legal remedies pursued against the rape perpetrator, the central aspect of the victimization he has perpetrated remains. As above, the embryo may be innocent, but it also not sentient, therefore not a major object of moral concern. On the other hand, the victimized woman is, one hopes, a major object of moral concern. She is not only "inconvenienced", but throughly disrupted in her life and her prospects, possibly in deeply traumatic and abhorrent fashion. Carrying a child to term creates a biological motivation to keep and raise that child, extending the disruption beyond a year to the rest of the woman's life. All because a theological position treats embryos as "persons"? That is a double victimization that treats women as vessels, not as persons.

EA said...

"The question then becomes where a fetus/egg/embryo lies in this spectrum of moral concern, assuming that we are concerned with all beings that suffer in a way that we recognize, both instinctively and ethically, as subjectively "bad".

That is were we come to the very rough trimester system, where the first represents no sentience whatever, the second represents more, and the third represents quite a bit."


A few questions are in order here:

1) How does one prove sentience?

2) Since the proof of a lack of sentience of the fetus is not currently a practice in performing abortions, are you advocating that such a test be performed in order to have an abortion?

3) Is a 3rd Trimester abortion always wrong, if not what are the exceptions? Who should "police" 3rd trimester abortions to ensure that these exceptions are legitimate?

4) If lack of sentience provides a condition for a morally justifiable murder on other grounds (viz. for food, convenience, quality of life, opportunity, financial, etc...), does that mean that individuals that are comatose or otherwise "not self-aware" are fair game for euthanasia? What are our moral responsibilities in those cases?

Burk Braun said...

Hi, EA-

"1) How does one prove sentience?"

We are working with broad approximations here, not precision. My basic point was that there is no way to construe an early embryo as either sentient, or an object of great moral concern on its own terms. I'll let you split the hairs.


"2) Since the proof of a lack of sentience of the fetus is not currently a practice in performing abortions, are you advocating that such a test be performed in order to have an abortion?"

No, as above, the idea of invoking sentience is a way of broadly making sense of our basic moral senses and duties, not a finely calibrated science. We kill sentient beings daily to eat them, after all. No tests are needed.


"3) Is a 3rd Trimester abortion always wrong, if not what are the exceptions? Who should "police" 3rd trimester abortions to ensure that these exceptions are legitimate?"

I would not call it wrong if the choice is between the fetus's life and the mother's. The policing as done by the medical profession currently is satisfactory. Such an operation is not trivial for anyone concerned, and is not currently undertaken lightly. In extreme cases, the state could bring charges for some kind of 4th degree murder in cases of unjustified third trimester abortion.


"4) If lack of sentience provides a condition for a morally justifiable murder on other grounds (viz. for food, convenience, quality of life, opportunity, financial, etc...), does that mean that individuals that are comatose or otherwise "not self-aware" are fair game for euthanasia? What are our moral responsibilities in those cases?"

Certainly a very good question. You may recall the Terry Schaivo case, where "murder", in your terms, was well justified. But the current science indicates that consciousness may remain in the absence of any exterior sign, so making a conclusion of non-sentience (or brain-death) for a person who, as a human being and as a medical patient, has the possibility of regaining human sentience, is extremely tricky. It isn't a science yet. Similarly difficult questions are about persons born with birth defects or otherwise incurring extremely severe deficits, (Alzheimers, dementia, etc.), on the line between sentience and non-sentience. As we nurture the best we can, we also use hospice and other means to triage sensibly those who have lost their humanity.

Sorry to take so much time in this thread.. I'll stop there. Thanks for your patience!

Andrew said...

I know we are way, way off topic here, but I need to ask again, Burk. What I asked was how your premises are rock solid and ours are arbitrary. You didn't answer that.

Burk Braun said...

Hi, Andrew-

The best way to put this might be to interrogate what your core moral senses are about killing living organisms- flies, cows, skin cells, plants, worms, bacteria, etc.. If you line them all up in a chain of being or sentience, you have few compunctions about killing (or "murdering") anything short of human beings, I would guess.

So all I am asking for is some consistency with the commonly held premises in this field, which I assume are yours as well. Being an atheist, I draw on no absolute moral or theological positions, only what we feel and agree on communally. This combines with a desire for maximum freedom when moral conceptions differ, within bounds of .

What I am showing here is that the magic line of conception is not consistent with our other approaches to living organisms, or even to humans, who we unplug once brain dead. Its sole justification is theoretical, through a theological slight of hand, or else through an argument from potential that could quite well extend back through the gametes and ad nauseum.

What seems to lie at the heart of this theological slight of hand are two very this-worldly and interconnected motivations. First, the understandable desire of the theological establishment to prosper demographically if it can not do so otherwise. Second, the derogation of the freedom of women, which has found expression in so many other ways by the uniformly male, and in some sects professedly celibate theological establishment, which is to say, a profoundly distant state from women.

What rankles particularly is the idea that keeping one's co-religious women down is not enough, but that one's theological position needs to rule the land without exception, over those not of the sect. If murder were an appropriate and universal description of early abortion, that would be one thing. But as I have labored to show, it is not.

On the other hand, I can understand that an ethical position takes as its touchstone a universal regard for all human life. If this were couched in terms of "persons" and sentience, it would make good sense. But it has come to extend to proto-life, and quasi-personhood in an arbitrary way. I can understand that one might be leery of slippery slopes, and any tendency to view any human life as expendable. But that is not looking reality in the face. We put a price on life (in insurance, pollution, and other policy matters), we manage the end of life, and we should also extend a reasoned balance to the ever-so-gradual beginning of life in view of the sometimes overwhelming and conflicting needs of the mother.

Andrew said...

Okay Burk, but you still haven't explained why your premises are not arbitrary and ours are.