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An interesting exchange between a theist and an atheist.

by Advokat
Nov 25 2009
4:51 PM

Fr. Tim: I disagree with just about every posting I have ever seen from you, reject the entire premise of your belief system, and am generally very skeptical of any statements built on a foundation that includes any notion of 'god' or other fictions, I too am sickened by the story that you posted. (Baby Gabriel case)

That said, this case does not raise 'right to die' issues. This is not a case of a competent mind expressing a wish to be allowed to die, and it was intellectually dishonest for you to have raised it in this context. The case that you have raised instead highlights the horrors associated with allowing accountants to make medical decisions. Disgusting? Absolutely. But really irrelevant to the 'dying with dignity' movement.

As a 'slippery slope' argument the case is unpersuasive - although, notwithstanding your 'That which is permitted..." quote, in my experience this kind of argument usually indicates an absence of other valid ones.

I also have to say that I agree with you on one other point: While I am a staunch advocate for gay rights including the recognition of gay marriage by civil authorities, the state has no business forcing churches to accommodate same-sex couples in its religious practices. However, where the church is an employer, it has crossed the line into the secular world and there is no legitimate reason to give the church a free pass on what would in any other case be unlawful discrimination.

by Fr. Tim
Nov 25 2009
6:22 PM

Advokat: Thank you for your post. I was trying to make the argument that economics/marketplace will eventually determine the question of end of life care. So, just as economics are the driving factor in the case I previously posted, do you not believe that the same forces will warp any move towards the establishment of a right for euthanasia in a like manner? If it can threaten life at its earliest stages, will it not do the same with the end stage of life?

I believe that a survey of similar social experiments with such an establishment of new rights is sufficient to at least cause us to be very hesitant to open the path to such a future.

Fr. Tim


by Advokat
Nov 25 2009
7:53 PM

Fr. Tim: I hear you, but in my opinion eliminating the 'right to die' because of concerns regarding the potential influence of economics is like throwing the baby with the bathwater.

To me, the problem is not with euthanasia itself; rather, the problem lies with allowing economic arguments to dictate treatment courses for a specific person.

Economic scarcity will always be a factor in health care, but consideration of resource allocation should be limited to the policy level (and not in individual cases to determine treatment for a specific person).

If we (Canadians) collectively decide (through our elected representatives) that healthcare resource scarcity is such that dollars should be spent in one type of case instead of another, then so be it... But this is the kind of decision that should be made after robust public debate, and not by some hospital committee behind closed doors.


by Fr. Tim
Nov 25 2009
8:08 PM

Advokat: Now I am in the unaccustomed position of agreeing with you! We had better be careful lest we find we agree on more than we disagree on (smile).

Thanks for the post. I too hope that we can have a robust public debate on these issues. That's what I've been trying to provoke by entering into these threads:to make the argument for what the faith calls us to. That is also why I very much appreciate posts such as yours which help to lay out the arguments for such major societal issues.

Fr. Tim


by Advokat
Nov 25 2009
9:03 PM

Fr. Tim: Will wonders never cease...

But in seriousness, you raise an interesting point: As fellow human beings we agree on far more than we will ever disagree on... This fact is all too often lost in the excitement and emotion of arguments on points on which the parties disagree.

Thanks for the follow-up, and have a great day.


by Fr. Tim
Nov 26 2009
3:48 AM

Advocat: I hope that you read ChrisA's posting. Without bringing any theism into the argument (s)he argues persuasively to the dangers that chill me as well.

Let me ask you for your opinion on this proposition: even if the Church (by this I mean the Christian Church and am not limiting it to the Roman Church) is stripped of any right in any argument to appeal to a divine involvement or existence, does it not have a valuable contribution to make to these debates as the repository of almost four thousand of the memories of such social experiments in previous times.

This would require that we strip ourselves of the post-modern conceit that we are the first to think such experiments worth implementing. Authentic Judeo-Christian wisdom has learned from the rise and fall of many a civilization. If there is a general consensus of opinion among theists that something is either "good" or "evil", does this not reflect the corporate memory of societies that spans such eons of time?

All that I am arguing here is that there is a right for a theist argument to be made and heard in the debates that face us in our society today.

I look forward to your, or any one's response.


Fr. Tim


by Advokat
Nov 26 2009
5:42 PM

Fr. Tim: You raise an interesting point. The church (in the collective sense) has a long 'institutional memory', and has accumulated wisdom to make a valuable contribution to discussions like this one.

In addition, regardless of how one may feel about the 'truth' of religious dogma, it cannot be denied that such teachings have informed the moral framework of a great many people, and their views on morality - i.e., the 'good' way to resolve an ethical issue - are valid and should be considered.

You are obviously educated and knowledgeable, and generally take a more reasoned approach to these types of discussions than other faithful. Perhaps this is a recognition that - and I do mean this with the greatest respect - statements like, "It is this way because god says so..." are not likely to be persuasive or even treated seriously by an atheist.

I suppose that a lot of the hostile reaction that religious persons receive from atheists in these debates can be attributed to the 'other' type of religious interlocutor: as Exhibit 'A', may I present Angelopeter as an example.

It is very difficult, particularly in a forum like this, to distinguish a contributor like you from one like Angelopeter, who strikes me and many others as a dangerous fanatic and who discredits you and your church and who undermines the contributions that the church can make in these discussions.

Statements like the following gem from Angelopeter are just downright scary to anyone rational: "[W]itchcraft does indeed exist... the only problem is if the Church catches them it is now longer allowable for us to have them executed."

Are you kidding me?!? There are a great many people who would agree that such a person really has no valid contribution to make to this type of discussion.

If I am wrong, chalk it up to me being unable to put myself in the mind of the religious faithful because I simply cannot understand blind belief in something without some form of evidence, but I have always assumed that more 'progressive' religious thinkers consider their primary texts to be collections of 'allegories' that are instructive but not to be taken as literal 'fact'.

But I simply cannot take seriously an argument put forward by someone who professes belief in creationism, for example... There is simply too much evidence that suggests otherwise, and blind faith in the truth of stories like Genesis indicates to me that the proponent is devoid of reason, rational thought and capacity for critical analysis. In that situation, why would I take seriously anything that comes out of that person's mouth?

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, but I wanted to get some thoughts down in response to your last thought-provoking post.


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