Truth Made Simple

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48 Responses to Truth Made Simple

  1. Joshua says:

    I’d accept all those things, if that was her baby. Provided they were done painlessly, of course.

  2. Sophistry knows no bounds.

    Why painless is a litmus test, Joshua, just befuddles me.

    I can do all those things to you so long as it is quick and painless?

    We will keep you in our prayers. We ask the same of you.

  3. Joshua says:

    The key word was actually ‘baby’ (i.e. neonate). Babies can feel pain, so they shouldn’t be hurt, but they aren’t aware of their own life, so that is up to the baby’s guardians to decide.

  4. Fr. J. says:

    Joshua, when you are asleep, you arent aware of your own life, so maybe we should leave your life in the hands of your creditors.

  5. Kim says:

    A mothers womb should be the safest most secure place for a baby – instead society has made a mothers womb the most dangerous place for a baby.

  6. Joshua says:

    Fr J, I still have the ability to be aware of my own life while I am asleep, or not currently thinking about my own life. So I should still have the right to life.

    Neonates, on the other hand, don’t yet have this ability.

  7. Rob says:

    That’s absurd reasoning.

    First, it is based on a moral assertion that it is acceptable to kill that which is not aware of itself (though I don’t grant that this is the case with infants, nor can any science be found to prove this). Since murder, no matter how desirable the conseequence, is forbidden for a Catholic, the discussion can really go no further.

    You condone murder. We do not.

  8. Joshua says:

    I don’t condone murder. I just have a different definition of it than you. To me, murder is killing somebody who doesn’t want to die (that is, somebody who is able to consider their own life and values it). Chimpanzees can recognise themselves in a mirror – human neonates cannot. Therefore, killing a chimpanzee is murder, but infanticide is not.

    Undoubtedly you believe that human life is somehow sacred, but I do not share you faith and therefore do not consider any value to a life except for the value that life is able to give itself. That is the ultimate value inherent in a person; the life of a person is valuable for that person’s own sake.

  9. By those standards Joshua, killing anyone up to the age of 2 or threee, or a person who is in a coma, or someone with Alzeheimers, is acceptable and not muder.

  10. Rob says:

    The divide is just too great. There is no conversation possible here. This person is dangerous.

  11. Joshua says:

    asimplesinner, it may not be always acceptable, but it is not murder (although the coma situation may be difficult to generalise. Some comas are reversible, such that they are not unlike the sleeping scenario). The only person able to make these decisions is the guardian. You can’t just say, for instance, that killing a dog is acceptable, because in many situations it may not be (depends what the owner thinks, whether you cause pain, etc).

  12. From where do you derive your definition of murder? It is proving to be rather elusive and self-serving all at the same time. Suffocating a newborn would not be murder?

    Bringing the euthanizing of dogs up, just leaves me utterly befuddled.

  13. diane says:

    Rob is right. This person is dangerous.

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    Joshua,

    Under anesthesia during surgery, you are not aware of anything. You are also given powerful drugs which wipe your memory clean of the actual surgery. Since you would not be aware of it ever happening, unless the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist told you, and you feel no pain, then ending your life under anesthesia should be allowed.

    This is your reasoning, right?

    :roll:

  15. Joshua says:

    My life is still valuable to me even while I am under anesthesia, asleep or in a coma. My ability to value my life still exists, but it isn’t expressible in that state.

    There is a large difference between having an ability but not using it and not having yet developed that ability. For example, you’d still say that I have the ability to speak English even if I was asleep or speaking German at the time. But you couldn’t say I have the ability to speak French, because I haven’t (yet) learnt that language.

    I have based my view on the contention that there is only one thing wrong with dying and that is doing it when you don’t want to. If that is not the only thing wrong with dying (as you all seem to think), then what else is wrong with it?

  16. Fr. J. says:

    I dont really care how you have defined anything in your private little world, Joshua. Infanticide is evil. Any system that points to infanticide as acceptable is either just wrong or wrong and evil. I’ll let you take your pick.

  17. Dr. Eric says:

    “Chimpanzees can recognise themselves in a mirror – human neonates cannot. Therefore, killing a chimpanzee is murder, but infanticide is not.”

    So if Chimpan-A kills Chimpan-Z do we charge him with murder? How about if he steals the other Chimp’s banana does he get 5-10 in Leavenworth?

  18. ultraguy says:

    Joshua wrote: “I don’t condone murder. I just have a different definition of it than you.”

    So, without resolving the core question here, let me ask you this:

    If you woke up one morning to find that society’s definition of murder had shifted to allow (or even enable/encourage), say, the killing of those with compound fractures, or a cancer diagnosis or those who couldn’t find a job for more than six months, or those more than 30 pounds overweight… to what standard would you appeal?

    I.e., if it’s OK for everyone to make up their own definition, what ground would you have for saying “hey, this is wrong!?”

  19. Joshua says:

    Well, I justified my definition (which, by the way, I borrowed from the work of the British bioethicist John Harris). If you think the definition (or any other definition people make up) is wrong, you are free to use some logical reasoning to show why it is wrong.

    For instance, I think the idea of murder as “the intentional killing of a human being” is wrong because there is no justification for the ‘human being’ to be protected. How can a group designation, like species, matter to the individual’s rights? To assign individual properties based on group properties is prejudice (e.g. she’s very old, so she must be frail and weak). And if I met an alien tomorrow that acted and seemingly felt the same emotions as a typical adult human does, then I’d have to say their death would be murder, but that definition wouldn’t include them.

    For more on this, see my blog post here: http://hplusbiopolitics.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/of-persons-robot-aliens-and-humans/

  20. ultraguy says:

    Joshua – just so I understand where you’re coming from (and please correct me if I’m not), it seems you’re basing your argument on the work of a modern bioethicist and on the process of logical reasoning argumentation among individuals at any given point in time, and ultimately on your own personal judgment of the validity of those arguments. Is this correct?

    Point taken re. aliens, but I was more curious, in asking the question I did about what you would offer against a change in the societal definition of justifiable killing that suddenly encompassed you or your loved ones. I.e., today you appear to be arguing for a more liberal definition than this blog’s sponsors, but what if the definition shifted so you were on the conservative side all of a sudden? On what grounds would you base your argument?

    Also, you wrote: “there is no justification for the ‘human being’ to be protected”. Well, actually, there is (e.g., Genesis 1:26-28), but, it seems you do not accept that basis for that justification, is that correct?

  21. Fr. J. says:

    Joshua, you have some pretty nice word games going on. Still, I dont accept your definitions or reasoning which leads to the justification of infanticide.

  22. Joshua says:

    ultraguy, you’re right that I’m basing my viewpoint on my own logical reasoning. That’s as much as I can do – as much as anyone can do. Even if I was conservative in a very liberal society, I’d still be arguing that we should kill people who don’t want to die. And no, I don’t accept religious justifications, because there is no evidence for their validity (i.e. what evidence can I use to work out whether the Bible or the Qu’ran or the Analects of Confucius are correct?).

    And Fr. J., remember that one man’s reductio ad absurdum is another man’s logical conclusion. I’d can’t just accept that infanticide is wrong, a priori.

  23. Fr. J. says:

    Joshua, I have a degree in philosophy. I understand fully what you are doing. It just wont fly with me. And it just wont fly here. You are not impressing anyone.

  24. ultraguy says:

    Joshua – I would urge you to consider the following… no response necessary… just reflect…

    Logical reasoning is important. No question. We have brains. We should use them. Too often religion, and religious people get a bad rap for seeming to pooh-pooh the importance of thought.

    That said, the question that began to bug me as I got older (and may or may not bug you — now or later) was: is that the ultimate? Is that really the best we can do? Is what my brain deliver to me really the best I can hope for in terms of wisdom and insight and truth and inner peace?

    And the conclusion I came to was that, no, it is not. It is necessary but not sufficient. It is a sub-set, not a super-set of what is required for all of those good things to flower. There are those things that go beyond logic and reason (e.g., prove that you love someone: you can’t. you just know). There are the things that are too vast or strange for me to take in (the intricacies of particle physics, for example). And then there are those questions on which my best course — I came to realize — was to trust that tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of minds over thousands and thousands of years were bound to yield a better, more refined answer than I could come up with on my own, even if I had an IQ of 180, which I don’t.

    Which is all to say: there is more to life than I can comprehend and I accept that. And that (difficult, humbling) realization confronted me with a question: should I trust? Should I have faith that others, cumulatively and/or authoritatively, on some questions but surely not all, probably have better answers than I do and it would be a waste of time (not to mention quite arrogant) for me to assume that I can out-think them in my short lifetime, if only because I have other things I have to pay attention to and there are only so many hours in the day.

    So, no need to respond, as I said. But just ponder: if your own powerful logic and reason are the ONLY things, then where does that take you? And then, more fundamentally, where should you trust? In what should you place your faith?

    I pray that the Holy Spirit helps you with those answers. He’s pretty darned wise, I’ve found.

  25. Joshua says:

    ultraguy, my background is science. Routinely, we find that the majority of the thousands of minds over the last thousands of years were completely and demonstrably wrong. Arguments stand or fall by themselves, completely independently of who said it, how many people agreed and for how long it was held. It is quite possible for one man to out-think the entirety of humanity that has gone before, especially when that man has more evidence to use (an example would be Charles Darwin).

    I am a freethinker. My own reasoning is the only thing I can trust, and so if somebody else’s reasoning makes sense to me, I’ll accept their conclusions. Faith provides nothing. You should be thankful I have given reasons for my beliefs here – had I said I believe this or that with faith, you would had nothing (but your own opposing faith) to influence my views.

  26. Fr. J. says:

    Joshua, one of the ways for judging a system of moral reasoning, in fact, the most important way of judging one is to look at its outcomes. If an outcome is morally repugnant, then the system is flawed. One outcome of your way of thinking is that it permits infanticide. This is morally repugnant as an outcome, even if you personally relish such permission. No society would support such a moral system.

    But, anyone can come up with some moral reasoning. Say for instance we said it isnt murder if you kill someone who does not believe in God. As long as we were consistant in carrying out the killing of people like yourself, it would be logical and rational. But, that would be morally repugnant as an outcome. And no society would support such a system no matter how much some individuals would relish it.

    I should also say, that no one really cares what you accept or do not accept. Moral systems are social in nature, not personal. That is, individuals dont get to make up and live by their own moral systems without ending up in jail. In fact, if I knew that you had a child, I would be morally bound to call child protective services because you are deluded into thinking that you can be justified in taking your child’s life.

  27. ultraguy says:

    Joshua – Thanks for that. As Dennis Prager likes to say, clarity is often preferable to agreement and you’ve delivered more of it (clarity) than we had yesterday. Scary. But clear.

    I too was trained in science. Yes, individual great minds have and will continue to discover things that render foolish the wisdom of many. But you’re arguing from the specific to the general and it doesn’t work (not to mention applying the rules of science too broadly).

    Because Newton developed the theory of gravity does not imply that a society can function in anticipation of everyone potentially becoming their own Newton in all matters public and private. It is tempting (because we all live in our own minds) but it is anarchy. Whether I like them or not, there are rules developed by others (both God and man) that — freethinker or not — I am not at liberty to break without consequences. Whether I acknowledge them, understand them and/or appreciate their validity is moot.

    I’m curious about your statement that “faith provides nothing”. Too often nowadays, the term (faith) is used in the unfortunate “Tooth Fairy” sense of pretending to believe in something that everyone knows does not exist. I.e, a willful suspension of disbelief, rooted in nothing other than a desire to not upset the applecart when your kid loses a tooth. The kid grows up and knows better.

    That’s not the faith we read in the Bible!! The Greek root for the word as used in scripture (pistis), so I’m told, is closer in sense to trusting in the character of a person based on experience and relationship with him or her. E.g., “I have faith in my best friend Fred, because in twenty years he’s never let me down without a really good reason, a phone call and a sincere apology.” I could just as easily say that I rely on, trust and/or love him and cherish his friendship. They are all of a piece and very different from Santa Claus and Barney the Purple Dinosaur sense of ‘faith’.

    So, I seriously doubt you’re proposing to deny that kind of essential, personally earned, personally experienced and fundamentally un-provable faith, if only because it’s essential to living in society (not to mention having a career within a community of scientists). One still uses one’s mind to make judgments, but it is a different use of the tool.

    And if you admit to that kind of faith, then the door is wide open to God. If you need scientific proof of his desire to have a relationship with you, you’re just not going to get it any more than I can prove to you that I love my family. (I can show you circumstantial evidence, but I suspect we agree that it’s not the same thing.)

    Bottom line: Man had to live with the law of gravity long before Newton codified it. So too must we live with moral laws we do not and cannot fully understand or have proven to us in the scientific sense. God’s immutable moral laws (e.g., re. the sanctity of human life) exist and have force whether we acknowledge Him and them or choose not to.

  28. Robert says:

    It’s somewhat ironic– or fitting?– that I’ve been reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s “After Virtue” today and I came home to check on this. His discussion of emotivism and the flimsy fiction which modern “rights” terminology is are entirely fitting. In the end it does seem to come down, not to reasoning, but to the bare assertion of a will.

    Let’s take a look at some of the justifications which Joshua uses for his position.

    “Chimpanzees can recognise themselves in a mirror – human neonates cannot. Therefore, killing a chimpanzee is murder, but infanticide is not.”

    There must be some implied premises here. One of which is that anything which is capable of self-recognition ought not to be killed. But the deeper question for Joshua is where values like these come from. Perhaps it is from some sort of utilitarian philosophy where the greatest pleasure for the greatest number is considered to be the end of ethics. Hence, one would want to maximize the pleasure of agents with the highest degree of self-consciousness (and perhaps this is why Joshua is really opposed to killing animals which are capable fo self-recognition). But these are only so many extra problems for Joshua to justify– why chose these values and not others as the end of ethics? Why choose any values at all? Or at least– why pretend that the values one chooses were chosen rationally, and not side with Nietzsche and assert that it really is irrational.

    Joshua really needs to consider why he has any values at all, and not his instead of ours.

    “I am a freethinker. My own reasoning is the only thing I can trust, and so if somebody else’s reasoning makes sense to me, I’ll accept their conclusions.”

    Why have any values at all? The only values you can really assert from your position are “I” or “me” values– I don’t like pain, so I don’t want anyone to hurt me. But why is it that anyone ought to follow your inclinations, except inasmuch as it is advantageous to them? If you want to be consistent in your rejection of the Christian tradition, then also destroy the shell of morality which the Enlightenment philosophers tried to salvage but miserably failed at saving. Now that would be “logical”– that is, consistent.

    -Rob

  29. Fr. J. says:

    Rob, you are the second person to mention MacIntyre in these two days. Havent read After Virtue in 20 years. Need to crack it open again. See you in the monastery!

  30. Rob with terrific responses like that, I for one would LOVE to see more posts!

    (hint, hint!)

  31. Joshua says:

    Fr J, you appear to have independently concluded that infanticide is not morally acceptable, yet you have not have provided any reason. Without a reason, you can hardly accept me to accept as a premise that infanticide is unacceptable.

    ultraguy, I use faith as meaning ‘believing that something is true without sufficient evidence to justify that belief’. If I have a friend who says something to me, that may be sufficient evidence, or it may not. It depends what he says. As Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

    Rob, my premises were not implied – I said them explicitly. Anything capable of awareness of their own life and capable of valuing that life deserves to have that life protected. Self-recognition is part of that, but not the whole story (for instance, the protection of a person, say in severe pain, who disvalues their life would not be justifiable).

    But you are right that I am fundamentally utilitarian, as are the works of Peter Singer, Jonathan Glover and John Harris from which I am inspired. Perhaps it is not completely rational (in that my own emotional feelings may bias my viewpoint, though I have tried to listen to reason over my gut feelings), but it is the philosophy that makes the most sense to me. The combination of personal values (like the pain example you mentioned) plus the knowledge (or at least the assumption) that other beings (especially persons, human or not) have similar interests, leads to conclusion that I should at the least value those things most precious to me – happiness and autonomy – in other people.

    That said, I do not think there is a ‘right’ morality, but I am not a moral nihilist. Perhaps my view is more closely aligned with ethical subjectivism.

  32. Fr. J. says:

    Joshua,

    Yes, you are right. I have assumed that infanticide is wrong. Ultimately, all moral systems are subjected to the question of seemliness.

  33. Robert says:

    Joshua,

    When I said that you premise was implied I did not mean that as an insult. It’s the most common way we proceed in argument. The best examples are arguments like yours. The dead giveaway is the usage of only two propositions, a minor premise and a conclusion. “Chimpanzees can recognise themselves in a mirror – human neonates cannot. Therefore, killing a chimpanzee is murder, but infanticide is not.” See, there’s only two propositions, so this argument is an enthymeme. The major premise is implied. Again, this is not an insult at all. I was only pointing it out so that I could critique it.

    “said them explicitly. Anything capable of awareness of their own life and capable of valuing that life deserves to have that life protected.”

    I must have missed that. Again, I want to stress that I’m not trying to cast doubt on your argument by saying it has an implied premise.

    “That said, I do not think there is a ‘right’ morality, but I am not a moral nihilist. Perhaps my view is more closely aligned with ethical subjectivism.”

    But the question is more troublesome to your argument than perhaps your realize. Note how you answered Fr. J. You said, “you appear to have independently concluded that infanticide is not morally acceptable, yet you have not have provided any reason. Without a reason, you can hardly accept me to accept as a premise that infanticide is unacceptable.”

    But this applies equally as well to your argument as to Fr. J’s argument. For I could equally charge you: Joshua, you appear to have independently concluded that it is wrong to kill beings which are self-aware, but you have not given any reasons. You can hardly expect me to accept the premise that killing a self-aware being is wrong!

    To which you might answer, “But Robert, I have given you the reason. A self-aware being values its life and that is why we ought not to take it.” But I would charge you once more with the same tactic. You can see how this can be repeated ad infinitum. Why do you reject Fr. J’s principle and assert yours?

    “The combination of personal values (like the pain example you mentioned) plus the knowledge (or at least the assumption) that other beings (especially persons, human or not) have similar interests, leads to conclusion that I should at the least value those things most precious to me – happiness and autonomy – in other people.”

    But I’m asking you to show me how you can validly infer from your personal preferences a morality valid and binding universally. You say that you “conclude” it, but it does not seem to me that you conclude it validly.

    And again, why would you value pleasure and autonomy in others? Indeed, inasmuch as it is possible for you to maximize your own pleasure and autonomy by causing pain and reducing that other person’s autonomy, why not do it? At this point most will balk, but let’s be logical. Let’s steel ourselves for the– perhaps unpleasant– conclusions. Perhaps sometimes it will be advantageous to your personal pleasure and autonomy to enslave and harshly wound other persons. Now, since you value your happiness and autonomy first and foremost, what logical reason could you have for declining to take advantage of such an opportunity? How could you call yourself “rational” and not do it? And if you don’t attempt to systematically exploit such situations, then I imagine I could also charge you with irrationality.

    “ultraguy, I use faith as meaning ‘believing that something is true without sufficient evidence to justify that belief’.”

    At the risk of commandeering this discussion, I would tell you that my definition of faith differs from yours. Indeed, if you define faith as being inherently irrational, it’s no wonder that you refuse to exercise it. But the more typical definition of faith would be the virtue of believing the truth of a proposition revealed by a competent or reliable authority. Hence, as Catholics we have faith in divine revelation because it comes from a God who cannot deceive or be deceived. Now, of course, you may rejoin, “but nevertheless you do not have adequate evidence for your faith,” but I think that is exactly where we’d differ. That is, both on the reasonableness of accepting Christian revelation and what degree of evidence is needed in order to accept it. But note the important difference between both definitions.

    -Rob

  34. ultraguy says:

    If I may attempt to summarize an exceptionally thought-provoking set of responses by Rob and Fr. J here, it’s been pointed out that Joshua is wearing a borrowed set of moral clothing, having thrown out the pieces he doesn’t like and kept those he does.

    Is it improper then, that the true owner of said clothing would ask: “Were you planning to buy that stuff… or go (morally) naked?”

  35. Joshua says:

    Indeed, it appears that many have picked up the subjective nature of morality. So if I, and many other cultures before they were exposed to Abrahamic moral traditions, do not consider infanticide to be morally repugnant, on what basis can any government prohibit infanticide or even abortion?

    All of you, through your own intuition and reasoning, have picked up a different moral code to my very utilitarian one. At the fundamental level, I have no evidence to back up my viewpoint and you have no evidence (or at least, none that anyone can show me) to back your divinely inspired morals.

    Therefore, it is very much akin to a Christian and a Hindu arguing about which religion is right or not. We can do no more that to agree to disagree, and to tolerate other people’s beliefs (even if intolerance is part of the other person’s beliefs, such as the intolerance of murder).

  36. Robert says:

    Joshua,

    We’re not going to concede that much in the debate to you. But anyway, I think you’re missing part of my point.

    You said, “on what basis can any government prohibit infanticide or even abortion?”

    But equally so, on what basis can any government prevent murder?

    “We can do no more that to agree to disagree, and to tolerate other people’s beliefs (even if intolerance is part of the other person’s beliefs, such as the intolerance of murder).”

    But can you tolerate another’s tolerance of murder? What if someone supports harm to you and murder to you? Quite clearly no one would support this, just as no thief would support someone thieving from his pocket.

    And, just as a note, would you mind commenting on my idea that it might be irrational for a person with beliefs similar to yours to refuse to take advantage of opportunities to harm others which would redound to his own pleasure? I’m interested in hearing your position.

    Thanks for pursuing this discussion, by the way. It’s always nice to have someone willing to dialogue with oneself. You’ve been very civil to us, and I thank you very much for being so.

  37. ultraguy says:

    Joshua writes: “…if I, and many other cultures before they were exposed to Abrahamic moral traditions, do not consider infanticide to be morally repugnant, on what basis can any government prohibit infanticide or even abortion?”

    You answered your own question: Abrahamic moral traditions…. and (I would add): everything else God has revealed since then, through ancient Israel, the prophets, the Messiah (Christ) and various churchly revelations since then.

    Before you guffaw and conclude that we are destined to talk past each other and that I’m choosing to believe my silly unprovable things and that they are no better than yours, bear with me one more moment. I’ve been in your shoes, Joshua. Really. Not that long ago either.

    This whole discussion turns, it seems, on what one means by ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’. You are a man of science, Joshua, and thus you have a particular set of assumptions about what those terms mean. And no, they are not self evident. Consider:

    Can you prove to me (or anyone) that…
    …the French and Indian war took place?
    …your parents or other family love or loved you? (or vice versa)
    …that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?
    …etc…

    The fact is, in order to do any of those things, you would need to resort to something other than peer reviewed, double-blind, experiments with statistically significant sample sizes. You couldn’t even rely on pure logic. You would need to convince me of the validity of documentary evidence, the trustworthiness of various intermediaries, the weight of circumstantial evidence, and the way the entire narrative held together holistically, not to mention convincing me of your own credibility and character.

    And even then, if I were stubborn, I could still argue (and sound quite rational doing it!) that you really didn’t convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt, much less to any scientific standard, and that I am therefore going to conduct my life as if my parents didn’t love me, nor me them, and as if various events in history (both obscure and not-so-obscure) did not take place.

    While you claim to worship scientific and logical methods as the ONLY ones worthy of your attention, you are, in fact, choosing all the time in your daily life to give credence to things known to you by other means (based on intuition, emotion, trust, story, interpersonal credibility, documentary evidence, archeology, tradition, popular sentiment, etc.) ALL THE TIME.

    The fact that you reject the particular set of moral teachings that have become known to us through the church — i.e., through precisely the same mechanisms to which you assign credibility in other areas — is a simply a tautology. I.e., it merely speaks to your choice in having rejected them. It only proves you have free will and that you have chosen to exercise it.

    The moral fabric of the universe as created by God Himself is not changed one iota by your decision. It waits patiently but not indefinitely for you to wake up and open your eyes. I pray that you do.

  38. Joshua says:

    Robert, as a human being I have empathy and compassion. Seeing others be harmed will quite likely cause me a lot of grief and guilt, and would result in a poor reputation and even legal consequences for myself. Overall, it would probably not be good for a being like me to harm others for some pleasure to myself. If the harms were slight, and the pleasure to myself far greater than any consequences of the harm, then perhaps it would be the right choice (for instance, stealing food from the rich to save my own life). And I’d like to thank you also for being civil – to often, I am just insulted and reviled for even daring to have the opinion that I do.

    ultraguy, I can prove those things, but only to the extent that they would be the most reasonable answer. One can NEVER prove that something is 100% true – there will always be the possibility that some future experiments will falsify that something. But evidence can lead to one answer being far more plausible than the others. Archaeology, palaeontology and forensics are, basically, sciences investigating hypotheses about the past. And given the evidence that those have uncovered, I find most of what is written in the Bible (e.g. creation myth, Noachian flood, existence of Jesus etc) to be fantasy – like that of every other religion on the planet. Given the lack of reliability of the Bible and the various churches on matters of science, am I likely to trust them on morality?

  39. Dr. Eric says:

    Joshua,

    You never answered me:

    So if Chimpan-A kills Chimpan-Z do we charge him with murder? How about if he steals the other Chimp’s banana does he get 5-10 in Leavenworth?

  40. Joshua says:

    Sorry Dr Eric. I fully intended to answer you, but I was caught up in what others were saying.

    I do think that a chimpanzee is wrong to kill another chimpanzee (after all, I think adult chimps deserve the right to life). However, whether they can be morally responsible is another issue entirely. Would a mentally-retarded human, or a human toddler, be held criminally responsible for a similar action against a fellow human? I think not, and so I don’t think that chimpanzees could be accountable for their actions.

  41. mia says:

    Someone needs to get this guy back to the mental facility that he has escaped from. With his logic and reasoning, I’m scared that he could just start killing us all, if he thought we deserved it. Seriously though, (and I don’t have a degree or anything) do you really think that a baby wants to die? I’m sure that my 8 month old doesn’t want to die, but she can’t communicate that to me. However, if I shot her , drowned her or chcoked her, she would pronbably cry out because she didn’t like it (ie. telling me that she didn’t want it to happen) Oh, wait a minute that would be communicating wouldn’t it? This mans logic is way off balbance, and I really do think that he has some issues. God bless him. As I do everyday, I will continue to lift up him and everyone to Jesus for the conversion of their souls. By the way, I pray for that for myself as well. Don’t want to sound self righteous.
    God is good all the time people, and He doesn’t make junk.

  42. ultraguy says:

    Joshua – Having sought clarity rather than agreement here, I have nothing else to add. It sounds like you’ve made your decision. I pray that you recognize the implications of what it entails before it’s too late.

    As I mentioned earlier, I once held views similar to those you now seem to hold. I could not imagine, at the time, that I would move 180 degrees away from them to where I am now but Christ is nothing if not transformative! I cannot explain the entire journey. All I know is that I took it and that all it required was my not shutting the door completely.

    I will pray that the Holy Spirit show you more. I am strongly encouraged by the fact that you’re hanging out here. If you were truly and finally convinced of the correctness of your arguments, you would be ignoring us.

  43. Robert says:

    mia,

    The very thing he denies is the “I-ness” of such infants. They are not “I’s” (at least in the relevant sense, because they are not “self”-aware, but as you point out, they are certainly aware!)

    You point out something very true, namely, that infants feel pain. It would seem to be very cruel to kill them, even from Joshua’s point of view.

    Of course, what Joshua may or may not know is that the skeptical tradition in modern philosophy from Hume onward, and which has been inherited by many of the scientistic people in our contemporary debate, is that there is no “I” whatsoever. It is utterly a subjective illusion (I know– it seems paradoxical, if there is no “I” then who exactly is being deluded?). This is at least because there is no point or source of unity for the human person which is detectable by empirical methods. Hence many conclude that the human person is not really a unified person, but rather just a ‘bundle of sensations.’ But I think this may also have equally debilitating effects for even Joshua’s philosophy, for we must think very carefully about what it means to be ‘self-aware’ when there is no ‘self’ at all.

    -Rob

  44. Joshua says:

    mia, I never said that a baby wants to die, but by the same token the baby cannot want to live. And as I said in the very first comment I made here, I think painful infanticide is wrong (because of the pain, not because it kills infants).

    ultraguy, it may be my stubbornness and my arrogance that keeps me here. I like to argue.

    Robert, do you have some evidence for the position that there is no self? Forgive me for asking, but I have a lot of skepticism for arguments from authority.

  45. Robert says:

    Joshua,

    We only know what we experience.
    We have no experience of the self.
    Therefore, we have no knowledge of the self.

    That’s pretty straightforward Humean empiricism.

    In case you misunderstand, I’m not saying anything about knowledge of our own existence. When I talk about the ‘self’ I mean a uniting principle of a human being. And indeed, there is no empirical evidence for such a thing.

    That is why contemporary philosophers like Daniel Dennett eschew the ‘self’ or the ‘I’ as an illusion. Instead, they tend to see ‘the self’ not as a unified whole but as a bundle of various things which are not in fact unified, but rather which vie for dominance.

    A Humean would say, “every time I look into myself I never experience this ‘self’ but rather various and successive perceptions, none of which individually discloses this unity to me.” A contemporary neurologist, when philosophizing, or a physicalist like Daniel Dennett would say, “there is no evidence of one part of the brain which is the command center, and so there certainly is no unified point which controls the rest.” And so he needs to create theories which adequately explain seemingly top-down causality in terms of bottom-up construction.

    But perhaps I’m just speaking about this like it’s all so obvious and I’m not really explaining myself? Please excuse me if I am, I didn’t mean to. At this point it seems obvious to me, but that’s simply because I’m familiar with it. Feel free to ask for more clarification.

  46. Joshua says:

    I think I understand you, but I’m not sure if it is relevant to my viewpoint. If some organism is able to comprehend that its being alive is preferable to its being dead, then I think we should not be forcing death upon such an organism without first receiving its approval. If it cannot comprehend such things, then we do not wrong it by making that decision for it (if my conjecture is true, that the only thing wrong with death is being forced into it).

  47. Kaya McCarthy says:

    Joshua, I can’t even describe how I feel about you. Abortion is MURDER. No matter how young it is, IT IS A HUMAN. Okay, let’s say a “fetus” few days or few hours young can’t even think. But it is a to-be human. Killing it is just ignoring their rights. Mothers’ rights? Why can’t they just have them adopted? Or, if they are teenagers, they shouldn’t have had sex anyway. If it’s their fault, why do we put the blame on children and “kill” them for their so-called “mothers”?

  48. Reese says:

    Well, it differs..

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