Questionable Motives

March 30, 2014

Why should religion be kept out of healthcare?

facepalmBecause it has nothing to do with providing best practices healthcare and everything to do with promoting its theology! And the problem becomes obvious when authority for healthcare decisions must pass through religious leadership that determines – based on theology and not medicine – if best practices ALIGNS with its dogma.

This is Crazytown.

Welcome to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a town of about 35,000 people who have one hospital called the Jane Phillips Medical Center. That hospital is part of Ascension Health, a large Catholic health care consortium.

Yeah, so what?

Well, in order to do their jobs, local obstetricians and gynecologists need to maintain privileges there.

Okay.

In order to maintain privileges, a doctor must meet the hospital’s POLICIES.

Sounds reasonable, right, because healthcare policies should be informed by best practices, right?

Wrong.

Catholic hospitals determine their polices based on Catholic doctrine first and foremost. Medical ethics are subject to this doctrine.

Are you beginning to grasp how concern about an incompatibility between religious belief and science-based treatment might arise?

Stick with me here.

What happens when Catholic doctrine stands contrary to some science-based medical service like… let’s say… oh, I don’t know… there are so many to choose from… birth control. Let’s return to Bartlesville/Crazytown and find out together, shall we?

Here is where the rubber of medical service providers meets the road of Catholic doctrine: local OB-GYN doctors who wish to maintain privileges at the one hospital can no longer prescribe birth control for birth control because it’s contrary to Catholic doctrine.

a meeting was held Wednesday to inform local doctors of gynecology and obstetrics that they can no longer prescribe contraceptives of any kind — if they are to be used as birth control. – See more at: http://examiner-enterprise.com/news/local-news/reports-jpmc-doctors-no-longer-allowed-prescribe-birth-control#sthash.O7ZbfxWK.dpuf

Who determines what healthcare services best fits the needs of patients and on what grounds: medical practitioners with advanced medical training or a group of celibate men in dresses and funny hats who pretend they can turn wine into blood and crackers into flesh by mumbling some Latin?

You are not surprised to find out that the authority – the right and god-sanctioned ethical authority – just so happens to be the group of celibate men… who require no medical expertise whatsoever who are on the basis of their religious authority better able to determine what constitutes the right medical services to provide. The specific patient’s welfare isn’t worth shit; maintaining the Church’s ethical standards are paramount, and local OB-GYNs are turned into their accomplices.

And some people are so militant, so strident, so hateful as to suggest that this hierarchy is intolerable in the public domain where there really is compelling evidence that religious belief when imposed on others is fundamentally incompatible with exercising individual autonomy to hold evidence-based science, its products, and its medical practitioners in higher esteem than religious shepherds s leading flocks of willing religious sheep. We are to vilify those who complain about this religious interference in the public domain to be superior to those who are educated and highly trained people in certain practices. After all, they must immoral because that’s what religious leadership tells us so it must be true. This is equivalent to plumbers and their expertise subject to oversight by those who think pipes can be cleared of problems caused by evil spirits through exorcism. If you have a plumbing problem, this kind of authority suddenly  becomes your concern when the plumber you must hire is obligated to not fix it for religious reasons.

The ongoing incompatibility between faith-based and science-adduced practices is so obvious, so ludicrous, so ethically screwed up, that its a mystery anyone with two neurons to rub together might think this hierarchy for determining services is in any way reasonable. It’s not; the truly delusional inmates are running the asylum… or, in this case, the hospital and its medical services.

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124 Comments »

  1. An unbelievably and entirely unnecessary mess.

    If Jane Phillips Medical Center receives any government funding, or adheres to any federal medical law then it should not in any way yield to religious direction. This whole concept of Catholic schools/hospitals is ridiculous, anyway. Are they free? Are the services donated? No.

    Comment by john zande — March 30, 2014 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  2. Coercion is the name of the game… but done in a way that allows Catholic authorities to pretend this is not really their choice, not really a choice imposed on others, not really interference in medical services but one of an ethically superior policy of influence. This is how the Church gets away with murder (see the death of Savita Halappanavar) and calls it ‘healthcare’.

    The reasonable people of Bartlesville should move away and take their business elsewhere and leave this kind of religious tyranny behind. Leave Bartlesville to the religious and let them start to inbreed.

    Comment by tildeb — March 30, 2014 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  3. A few points:

    1.a. Not all Catholic priests are celibate. Priests who have converted from Eastern Orthodoxy or Anglicanism and are already married are not asked to separate from their wives. Furthermore, there are also different Rites within Catholicism, some of which allow married men to become priests e.g. the Melkite Church.

    b. In Catholic theology, the Words of Institution don’t have to be said in Latin to be valid.

    c. Your little jibe about dresses and funny hats is utterly puerile.

    2. You portray this issue as “faith-based” Catholic doctrine coming into conflict with “science-based medical service”.

    a. Doesn’t scientific research just tell us things like whether the ingestion of certain compounds will have a contraceptive effect on the body or not? The question of whether contraception is immoral or not properly lies within the purview of ethics, not science.

    b. The Catholic Church has arguments for this ethical stance, arguments which stem from an analysis of the proper use of the human body which can be accepted by people of many different religious stripes. Speaking as a non-Catholic, I see nothing wrong about such arguments being put forward in the public domain. So, as I see it, this stance is neither “faith-based” in the sense that it appeals to special revelation, nor in the sense that it is being put forward as something that has to be believed as an arbitrary presupposition.

    3. RE: “the Church gets away with murder”

    Contrary to what you may have picked up in the media, tildeb, abortion to save the life of a mother is legal in Ireland and recognised as acceptable practice among medical professionals. In 2000, Professor John Bonnar, chairman of Ireland’s Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist remarked “We have never regarded these interventions as abortion. It would never cross an obstetrician’s mind that intervening in a case of pre-eclampsia, cancer of the cervix or ectopic pregnancy is abortion. They are not abortion as far as the professional is concerned, these are medical treatments that are essential to protect the life of the mother. So when we interfere in the best interests of protecting a mother, and not allowing her to succumb, and we are faced with a foetus that dies, we don’t regard that as something that we have, as it were, achieved by an abortion.

    Abortion in the professional view to my mind is something entirely different. It is actually intervening, usually in a normal pregnancy, to get rid of the pregnancy, to get rid of the foetus. That is what we would consider the direct procurement of an abortion. In other words, it’s an unwanted baby and, therefore, you intervene to end its life. That has never been a part of the practice of Irish obstetrics and I hope it never will be.”

    So, given this, have you considered the possibility that the death of Savita Halappanavar may have been due to medical malpractice?

    Comment by calebt45 — March 30, 2014 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

    • Calebt45,

      I was waiting for tildeb to respond before adding my 2 cents. I must that I found your post utterly contemptible. If you’re going to defend the Catholic Church or faith-based medicine in general, you should come up with better arguments.

      1a) Fine – not all priests are celibate. I was unaware of that fact (and I guess tildeb was too). Thanks for informing us. What that has to do with the topic at hand, I have no idea.
      b) Catholic theology is not “valid” no matter what langue it’s spoken in.
      c) I found tildeb’s dresses and hats comments rather amusing. It’s based on subjective observation. I don’t see many people dressing in robes and funny hats that aren’t in some kind of holy orders. I also think they look silly.
      2a) The question of contraception is a social question – as you say within the purview of ethics. I don’t recognize the Catholic Church (or any other faith-based organization or religion for that matter) as having any special knowledge, insight or other advantage derived from the belief in a divine authority. I suspect tildeb also takes that view. In other words, their opinion doesn’t hold any more weight because of their beliefs. There’s no reason for anyone to respect that position. I don’t recognize positions arrived at due to religious beliefs as an argument winner or trump card.
      b) The Catholic Church’s arguments for it’s “ethical stance” are derived from theology and dogma and nothing more. It is most certainly NOT derived from “an analysis of the proper use of the human body”. This theology and dogma has been around for centuries, long before we knew anything of human biology. The people who wrote that theology and dogma could not possibly have been more ignorant with regards to human anatomy and biology.
      3) Contrary to what you may has seen in the media, the Catholic Church’s position on contraception and abortion have been very consistent. It’s wrong – don’t do it – ever. Don’t ever use condoms – not even to prevent the spread of AIDS. Mother Theresa, Pope Benedict and the like have preached this nonsense from the pulpit every chance they got. Let’s just say that I agree with John Bonnar’s view. What does that have to do with the Catholic Church?

      Comment by Ashley — March 31, 2014 @ 11:17 am | Reply

      • 1.a. It’s common for people to say “what would celibate men know about sex anyway?” I think that tildeb takes up this trope in his post, so this was a reply to that.
        b. has no relevance, but I just couldn’t resist pointing it out.
        c. If you think it looks silly, fine. What does the fact that they wear robes and hats do to discredit their authority? Zilch.

        2a. “ “I don’t recognize positions arrived at due to religious beliefs as an argument winner or trump card.”
        Fair enough. I don’t think that the Catholic position on contraception necessarily has to be arrived at due to “religious beliefs” though.
        b. “The Catholic Church’s arguments for it’s “ethical stance” are derived from theology and dogma and nothing more.”
        The Catholic Church has arguments which stem from an analysis of the proper use of the human body which can be accepted by people of many different religious stripes. If you want to claim that those arguments are fallacious, OK, but to deny their very existence is mistaken.
        For a brief introduction, see:
        http://www2.franciscan.edu/plee/natural_law.htm

        3. “Contrary to what you may has seen in the media, the Catholic Church’s position on contraception and abortion have been very consistent. It’s wrong – don’t do it – ever… Let’s just say that I agree with John Bonnar’s view. What does that have to do with the Catholic Church?”

        Again, you are simply flat-out wrong with regard to abortion. The permissibility of abortion to save the life of a mother is a widely held view among Catholic ethicists. In 1951, Pope Pius XII said:

        “If, for example, saving the life of the future mother, independently of her condition of pregnancy, urgently required a surgical procedure or another therapeutic application, which would have as an accessory consequence, in no way desired or intended, but inevitable, the death of the fetus, such an action could not be called a direct attack on the innocent life. In these conditions, the operation can be considered licit, as can other similar medical procedures, always provided that a good of high value, like life, is at stake, and that it is not possible to postpone it until after the birth of the child, or to use any other effective remedy.”

        Papal statements are only held as “infallible” in certain circumstances, and I have no idea if this was one of those, but I can present plenty other pieces of evidence for the prevalence of this view if you like. Do you admit that you were mistaken on this count?

        Comment by calebt45 — March 31, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

      • “In November 2009, when Sister Margaret McBride, as a member of the ethics board of a Catholic hospital, allowed doctors to perform an abortion to save the life of a mother of four suffering from pulmonary hypertension, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted excommunicated her on the grounds that, while efforts should be made to save a pregnant woman’s life, abortion cannot be justified as a means to that end.”

        Comment by tildeb — March 31, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

      • Oh, and no Nazi was ever excommunicated; for a crime worthy of that extreme punishment, it takes a woman daring to exert control over her uterus.

        Comment by tildeb — March 31, 2014 @ 10:53 pm

      • Extreme punishment? For an overview of what excommunication actually consists of see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm
        I suspect that you have absorbed the perception that excommunication functions as some kind of statement of whether somebody is damned or not. This is untrue. Note also that, in Catholic theology, the absence of excommunication doesn’t serve to show that somebody is in a state of grace.

        Regarding Sr. McBride, within less than two years, she was reconciled to the Catholic Church.

        Keep on truckin, brah 😉

        Comment by calebt45 — March 31, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

      • Tildeb,

        Here I must correct you! There was one Nazi excommunicated from the church. Who? Joseph Goebbels. Why you might ask? For being a willing participant in the Nazi final solution? No, not for anything as trivial as that. No, much, much worse than that. He was excommunicated for the horrific crime of marrying a divorced protestant.
        Oh and to tack on to Calebt45’s statement, since sister McBride “reconciled” with the church within 2 years, someone made an error somewhere. Either the Church was wrong to excommunicate her and she was right all along, OR she’s still wrong but they have a heretic or dissenter within their ranks. Since their views are 180 deg opposites, one of them is wrong. Who’s wrong Calebt45?

        Comment by Ashley — April 1, 2014 @ 9:23 am

      • Caleb, did you even read the link about what excommunication is? For crying out loud, the opening states:

        Excommunication (Latin ex, out of, and communio or communicatio, communion — exclusion from the communion), the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence.

        I said, “no Nazi was ever excommunicated for a crime worthy of that extreme punishment,” which is true, by the way, and you read that to mean I’m talking about damnation. I’m not. I’m talking about what constitutes an extreme punishment by the Catholic Church (go figure). And the ‘crime’ of controlling one’s uterus is – in the eyes of the Church – a much greater crime than instituting a holocaust. That’s why I don’t think the Church telling me what constitutes ‘proper use of the human body’ carries any ethical meaning worth listening to… because they have no means at their disposal to figure out why and how they have gone so badly astray in what the term ‘proper’ means in their own versions of ethics and morality.

        Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 10:17 am

      • Reply to #3 @Calebt45:

        If you bother to read the Directives under which those who work for a Catholic hospital or seek privileges there must adhere, let’s attend the fifth one:

        5. Catholic health care services must adopt these Directives as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition for medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives for administration, medical and nursing staff, and other personnel.

        So what or who are doing the instructing? Not the people making the tough medical decisions as an advocate for individual patients. Not directives that accept best medical practices first. Nope. The Bishop of the diocese – a celibate, unmarried man, don’t forget – determines the ‘proper’ instruction to doctors and nurses for the ‘appropriate’ use of female contraception. His overseers? Some medical board perhaps? Don’t be silly. Another group of celibate, unmarried men are responsible overseers: the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops whose medical expertise is…. fuck all. Good to know that the source of medical instructions for patient care is being provided by a bunch of people who have no medical expertise at all but a religious conviction that their instructions are divinely sanctioned. This is a ludicrous foundation for justifying any medical practice worth the name.

        Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 10:37 am

      • @Ashley

        I’ve heard this story before but I still don’t know if it’s true. What I know is that a papal pronouncement (I can’t recall its name) was made in 1930 that excommunicated all Nazi officials, but the official Concordat of 1933 gave much esteem to the Party. What’s missing, of course, is unequivocal condemnation and excommunication by the Church of specific high ranking Nazis… a condemnation that is never lacking when it comes to those providing healthcare that stands contrary to the Church’s religious ethics.

        Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 11:24 am

      • Hey Tildeb,

        From what I’ve read and heard, Pope Pius XI was considered at least partially “anti-Nazi” whereas the Pope Pius XII was considered “pro-Nazi” but I’ve read things that contradict both those positions. In any event, I think I can say that the relations between the Vatican and Nazi Germany were convoluted, complicated, politically motivated and probably not something I’d be all that proud of if I were to call myself a Catholic. The mere fact that no Nazi was ever excommunicated for taking part in the holocaust is extremely damning to say the least.

        Comment by Ashley — April 1, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

      • “Either the Church was wrong to excommunicate her and she was right all along, OR she’s still wrong but they have a heretic or dissenter within their ranks. Since their views are 180 deg opposites, one of them is wrong. Who’s wrong Calebt45?”

        As I understand it, it’s not impossible for the Catholic Church to admit that their ministers have erred in pastoral discipline. They can either repeal current excommunications, or dismiss proposed ones. As for this specific case I don’t know whether they lifted her excommunication or whether she repented.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 1, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

      • “And the ‘crime’ of controlling one’s uterus is – in the eyes of the Church – a much greater crime than instituting a holocaust.”

        This is pure unvarnished rhetoric. I‘ll say three things:

        -while many in Europe were aware of the deportation of Jews and others, they were often unaware of the full scope of the Holocaust, and presumed that they were being used as labourers, rather than being exterminated.
        -The Vatican, remembering the chaos and violence which erupted from the excommunication of Elizabeth I, was concerned about their actions (e.g. the excommunication of Hitler) being perceived as political meddling.
        -publicly speaking out against the deportations was not always ethically unambiguous.

        For example, on Sunday July 26 1942, a pastoral letter from the bishops was read in the Catholic parishes of the Netherlands, which included the following telegram they had sent to Nazi authorities:

        “The undersigned Dutch churches, already deeply shocked by the actions taken against the Jews in the Netherlands that have excluded them from participating in the normal life of society, have learned with horror of the new measures by which men, women, children, and whole families will be deported to the German territory and its dependencies.

        The suffering that this measure will bring upon tens of thousands of people, the knowledge that these measures are contrary to the deepest moral consciousness of the Dutch people, and, above all, the hostility of these measures against the divine norms of justice and mercy urge the churches to direct to you the urgent petition not to execute these measures.

        Our urgent petition to you is also motivated by the consideration that, for the Christian Jews, these measures would make it impossible for them to participate in the life of the Church.”

        As a direct retaliation for this public protest, the Nazis immediately deported 40,000 of the Netherland’s Jews. Wilhelm Harster, a prominent Nazi official at the time, commented after the war that “The deciding motive of the general commissioner was certainly that he wanted to react to the fact that the Catholic Church did not restrict herself to defending members of her own faith.”

        I’m not saying that I know all the the ins and outs of this particular issue, or that the Catholic Church has a “clean sheet” but here’s my wacky suggestion: if you want to be thought of as being “more rational” than everybody else, then try to deal with the real complexities of history, rather than cribbing sound bites from the intellectually underwhelming Christopher Hitchens.

        “So what or who are doing the instructing? Not the people making the tough medical decisions as an advocate for individual patients. Not directives that accept best medical practices first. Nope.”

        But this is precisely the issue: we’re talking about two different positions within medical ethics, and the Catholic Church would claim that their position does constitute “best medical practice”.

        “Good to know that the source of medical instructions for patient care is being provided by a bunch of people who have no medical expertise at all but a religious conviction that their instructions are divinely sanctioned. “

        Again, the Catholic position on these issues appeals to arguments which could be true, irrespective of whether their institution is divinely sanctioned or not.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 1, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

      • Cale,

        “If somebody said “I’m an atheist, but the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example of the vomitorium” would you agree that this argument can’t be fairly characterised as a “religious” mode of reasoning?”

        The only thing I will agree to, is that the above is complete, unintelligible, idiotic gibberish, written by someone with a very thin grasp on the English language, logic and reality in general.

        Good night and god bless.

        Comment by Ashley — April 3, 2014 @ 10:14 am

    • Calebt45,

      I’ll address points that I think are worth addressing

      1c) “If you think it looks silly, fine. What does the fact that they wear robes and hats do to discredit their authority? Zilch.” I just finished telling you (and you just finished acknowledging) that I don’t recognize anyone’s religious beliefs as granting any special knowledge or authority on any subject. You THINK they have authority because their belief in a god grants them that. The only people I recognize as having authority when it comes to medical practice are dr’s, nurses, paramadics….people actually trained in medicine. NOT people “trained” in bronze-age fairy tale beliefs. To spell it out for you – when a dr says “I need to perform an abortion on this woman and I will most certainly save her life”, I give that more weight than some fanatic in a robe and hat that says “No! You can’t do that! I know what God wants and he doesn’t want this!!!! This is against God’s will!!!” Now go ahead and assert that positions arrived at by the Catholic Church “aren’t necessarily arrived at due to religious belief”. If you can actually bring yourself to believe that, good for you.
      2b) “The Catholic Church has arguments which stem from an analysis of the proper use of the human body.” This is absolutely ridiculous. Are you trying to insinuate that there have been some kind of medical studies carried out by the Catholic Church on this subject?!?! “What are these “analysis of the human body” that you speak of? How is an “analysis of the human body” going to help you determine it’s “proper” use? This is a social and ethical question that is philosophical in nature. Who is to say what the “proper” use of a human body is? Who is to say that there is a “proper” use of the human body? The Catholic Church’s “analysis of the human body has determined a “proper” use of the human body and it doesn’t include abortion? Where are you getting this from?!?! What on earth are you talking about!!??!?!
      3) No sir, I am not “flat out wrong with regard to abortion”. I have seen Mother Theresa make speeches where she calls abortion the biggest threat to world peace. Pope Benedict called abortion “a crime against society”. Pope Francis calls abortion “horrific”. Have other popes or “holy” people taken different views? Most certainly. If you’re trying to point out that not every “holy” person is consistent on the topic of abortion, mission accomplished. Your argument is not with me, but with those “holy” people who hold a view contrary to the pope’s. On what grounds do they disregard the pope’s “authority” and position on abortion? Please don’t come to me with “your mistaken”. This doesn’t make me “mistaken”. It makes those people incoherent and inconsistent – which is exactly what I would expect from beliefs derived from man-made primitive superstitious nonsense. To spell it out, I don’t care what any pope, any rabbi, any imam or any other “holy person” has to say about the topic of abortion. Their views derived from their beliefs are complete babble as far as I am concerned. I don’t care if “the Papal statements are only held as “infallible” in certain circumstances, and I have no idea if this was one of those” It’s irrelevant, meaningless, unimportant white noise.
      The very idea of an “infallible” human being or a human being that can make “infallible” statements is absolutely PREPOSTEROUS. You might accept that as an argument. I do not.

      Comment by Ashley — April 1, 2014 @ 9:09 am | Reply

      • 1c. “You THINK they have authority because their belief in a god grants them that”

        No, I don’t.

        “The only people I recognize as having authority when it comes to medical practice are dr’s, nurses, paramadics”

        What about Doctors, nurses, paramedics and bioethicists who agree with the Catholic ethical stance? As tilde was doing, you are creating a false dichotomy of “medical professionals and their medical ethics” and “those religious fanatics and their dirty “religious ethics””

        1 “Now go ahead and assert that positions arrived at by the Catholic Church “aren’t necessarily arrived at due to religious belief”. If you can actually bring yourself to believe that, good for you.”

        I am completely comfortable with this belief and if I became a pro-choice atheist tomorrow I would still hold to it. If you are saying that the Catholic position on issues like abortion and contraception rests solely on an appeal to divine revelation or the putative infallibility of the Magisterium, then I guess at this point I can only encourage you to keep reading on this subject and consider that you might be wrong.

        2.b. “This is absolutely ridiculous. Are you trying to insinuate that there have been some kind of medical studies carried out by the Catholic Church on this subject?!?! What are these “analysis of the human body” that you speak of? How is an “analysis of the human body” going to help you determine it’s “proper” use? This is a social and ethical question that is philosophical in nature. Who is to say what the “proper” use of a human body is? Who is to say that there is a “proper” use of the human body? The Catholic Church’s “analysis of the human body has determined a “proper” use of the human body and it doesn’t include abortion? Where are you getting this from?!?! What on earth are you talking about!!??!?!”

        I think it will clear up things if you read the link I referred you to earlier. If you’d like me to suggest some more reading material, I’d be happy to. I am indeed referring to ethical discussions which are philosophical in nature. You ask “who is to say that there is a “proper” use of the human body?”. Right! That is a completely legitimate question to ask, and Catholic ethicists try to give arguments (which don’t refer to divine revelation or the alleged infallibility of the Catholic Church) that try to establish that there *is* a proper use of the body. Ask yourself: couldn’t it be a possibility that I’m uninformed about this?

        No sir, I am not “flat out wrong with regard to abortion”…. If you’re trying to point out that not every “holy” person is consistent on the topic of abortion, mission accomplished.

        Lets recap: I said that Bonnar makes a distinction between abortion to save the life of a mother and abortion for other reasons. You said “Let’s just say that I agree with John Bonnar’s view. What does that have to do with the Catholic Church?”. I pointed out that you were incorrect in saying that Catholics don’t, or can’t affirm that distinction and take that same position. That is the sense in which you are wrong.

        You are obviously correct in that figures like Pope Francis etc. strongly condemn abortion in general.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 1, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

      • Caleb,

        I growing extremely tired of your circular arguments and your very selective/limited memory. Did I not already say at least twice now (and have you acknowledge) that I don’t recognize the Catholic “stance” (or any other religious “stance”) as having any weight whatsoever when it comes to the practice of medicine? You counter with “yeah, but what about drs that agree with Catholic stance?” I then say “This “stance” is arrived at via dogma, faith and theology, not from the study of medicine or biology” You turn around and say “No it’s not. Catholic ethicists arive at their position without any reference to divine revelation or the infallibility of the Catholic Church” If their position is arrived at without reference to divine revelation or any reference to the Catholic Church whatsoever, then what may I ask makes it the Catholic “stance?”. What’s “Catholic” about it if it’s got nothing to do with the Catholic Church – as you have readily admired? Why not call it the Hindu stance? Perhaps the Muslim stance? Maybe the humanist stance? How about the neutral, unreligious stance since it you admit that it had nothing to do with religion? Your argument is completely unintelligible and beyond bizarre.
        You can point me to as many white noise articles from as many catholic apologists as you like. They, like you, will ignore that fact that the Catholic Church’s position on matters concerning abortion can be traced back to the beginnings of the church in the 2nd century. You can assert that the churches position on abortion wasn’t/isn’t arrived at via faith or theology until you’re blue in the face. You don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re making this garbage up as you go. May I suggest YOU do a little research and find out why YOU’RE wrong?
        P.S. You still haven’t presented the Catholic Churches “analysis of the human body” that they used to arrive at their position of how to “properly” use one’s body. Why is that? You’ve got all this “analysis” so where is it?

        Comment by Ashley — April 1, 2014 @ 11:09 pm

      • “This “stance” is arrived at via dogma, faith and theology, not from the study of medicine or biology. You turn around and say “No it’s not. Catholic ethicists arive at their position without any reference to divine revelation or the infallibility of the Catholic Church… You can assert that the churches position on abortion wasn’t/isn’t arrived at via faith or theology until you’re blue in the face.”

        My apologies if I’ve been unclear, but that’s not what I was trying to say. Individual Catholics may hold their views for all sorts of reasons. One of possible reasons is philosophy. These philosophical arguments can be decoupled, assessed and adopted *independently* of whether one believes in transubstantiation, apostolic succession, Petrine primacy etc. Thus, I don’t think they are properly characterised as religious.

        “You can point me to as many white noise articles from as many catholic apologists as you like. They, like you, will ignore that fact that the Catholic Church’s position on matters concerning abortion can be traced back to the beginnings of the church in the 2nd century.”

        Yes early Christianity opposed abortion. Briefly, the prominent Church Father Justin Martyr (100 – 165 AD) taught that people who were isolated from God’s special revelation could still investigate moral questions via their natural faculties of reasoning, and St. Paul in Romans 2:14 has traditionally been taken as teaching something similar. I hope you did read that article 🙂

        “You still haven’t presented the Catholic Churches “analysis of the human body” that they used to arrive at their position of how to “properly” use one’s body.”

        For an introduction, see:
        https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUiebnUxMUEtc1B4VTQ/edit
        https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieLUM2VkV5c0ZlOW8/edit

        While it’s a pseudonym, it’s meant to be “Cale”, not “Caleb” btw.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 2, 2014 @ 1:05 am

      • Cale,

        Let’s just start with the basics. I ask you for this “analysis of the human body” that was either undertaken or commissioned by the Catholic Church and you give me papers entitled 1) “The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Law” and 2) “Natural Law Critique of Genetic Engineering” by David S Oderberg – a philosopher and lay catholic. I barely even know where to start with this. My critique or objections, in no particular order:

        1) Articles written by a philosopher (who is a catholic), with ZERO medical degrees.
        2) in article 1) Not ONE WORD about any of the following subjects: Catholicism, religion, abortion or the human body and in article 2) Not ONE WORD about Catholicism or the human body, 1 mention of the word religion under a subsection entitled “What God intends”, where he writes the following COMPLETE BABBLE “That there is wide disagreement among theists about how to determine God’s intent, and indeed about religion in general, is no more an obstacle…The ethicist who appeals to God’s will – whether he be a NL theorist or not – has to make out a rational case just like anyone else,…” (pg 112-113) Yes. Please tell me more about making a “rational” case for the idea of a invisible, inaudible, supernatural deity. His mention of the word abortion is in the conclusion and calls it “illegitimate” in the context of genetic technologies. No reference of any kind to an “analysis of the human body” as to how he reached the conclusion that abortion is “illegitimate”.
        3) Article 1 – written in 2010 and article 2 written in 2005, approximately 1800 years after the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion had been adopted in the Didache.
        4) Articles written by a man who says that abortion is wrong because a fetus is an innocent life, but it’s ok to kill animals because they are “not moral agents” and ok to kill other human beings via the death penalty because justice must be retributive and it is just to kill a murderer – in other words, Old Testament teaching – an eye for an eye.

        If this guy is the best you can do, then I guess that’s the best you can do. I remain thoroughly unconvinced that the Catholic Church’s position on abortion was arrived at by “an analysis of the human body”.

        “Individual Catholics may hold their views for all sorts of reasons. One of possible reasons is philosophy…” We’re not talking about “Individual Catholics” and their different view points. We’re talking about SPECIFICALLY the view that is taken by the Bishops and other clergymen who run these Catholic Hospitals where abortion is not performed. If you honestly believe that if we were to ask the Bishops and other clergymen who actually run these facilities where they got the idea that abortion is wrong and they’d answer somewhere along the lines of “Oh you see son, we did an “analysis of the human body” and then we read David S Oderberg’s papers on The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Law and Towards and Natural Law Critique of Genetic Engineering and that’s how we determined that abortion should never be done ever. We never used Catholic Theology at all. Our religious beliefs had nothing to do with it”, YOU ARE DELUSIONAL. If you believe that, you and I are not inhabiting the same reality.

        Comment by Ashley — April 2, 2014 @ 9:36 am

      • (Reproduced from below)

        Consider the concept of a “vomitorium”, the place at which ancient Romans would regurgitate so that they could then eat again. (Apparently it’s a myth that vomitoriums as such existed in the ancient world, but bear with me)

        Some would argue that going to the vomitorium is perverse, because the pleasure involved in eating is coupled to a certain end: that of nutrition. The perversity of the act arises, not from the fact that people are enjoying themselves, but because the pleasure has become completely decoupled from the true purpose of the digestive system.

        What if somebody said “I’m an atheist, but the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example above.”

        You could argue that such a person is wrong, but I don’t think that you could fairly say that this is a “religious” mode of reasoning. Do you disagree? I linked to those articles and books because they contain examples of these kinds of arguments which a person can accept without holding to Catholicism.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 3, 2014 @ 1:53 am

      • Cale,

        Every time I get into a conversation with a deist, theist, apologist, religious sympathizer, etc I am always reminded of one of Christopher Hitchens last debates. “Don’t you ever get tired of arguing with the religious Christopher? No! Absolutely I don’t. Because you never know what they’re going to say next!” What “vomitoriums” (“ancient” Romans eating their own puke) has to do with ANYTHING we’re talking about is completely beyond me. Not a single thing you wrote in that last post makes a word of sense. Actually I think I have to say that it’s now on my top ten list of stupidest things I have ever heard a human being say. How ancient Romans eating their own puke is a defense of the Catholic position on abortion and how those mandates are being forced on doctors in Catholic hospitals has escaped me entirely. Anyways, this is the point where I am going to bow out of the conversation because there is no point in continuing any further. You have very aptly demonstrated that you will say ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING (from the “analysis of the human body” nonsense to the bordering-on-insane “ancient Romans eating their own puke” arguments) no matter how off-topic, how amazingly bizarre and how incredibly ridiculous it is to defend the Catholic Church, it’s practices and the stupid, ignorant, dangerous ideas that they force medical practitioners to adopt in the course of administering health care.
        Good day to you sir.

        Comment by Ashley — April 3, 2014 @ 8:38 am

      • What “vomitoriums” (“ancient” Romans eating their own puke) has to do with ANYTHING we’re talking about is completely beyond me. Not a single thing you wrote in that last post makes a word of sense.”

        The argument for the immorality of the vomitorium is an example of one which attempted to analyse the human body, a “natural law” argument which could be accepted be people of many differing religious persuasions. It was meant as a lead-in to an analogy with the reproductive system.

        I did ask you a question, and it wasn’t meant rhetorically. I think it pretty much distills down what I’ve been trying to say, so if you are willing to go the extra mile and give a straight answer to it, I’d appreciate that, and be happy to end things there:

        If somebody said “I’m an atheist, but the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example of the vomitorium” would you agree that this argument can’t be fairly characterised as a “religious” mode of reasoning? If your answer is yes, then all of your’s and tildeb’s ranting about how this is “solely a religious doctrine” is false.

        Comment by Cale B.T. — April 3, 2014 @ 9:07 am

      • Cale,

        “If somebody said “I’m an atheist, but the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example of the vomitorium” would you agree that this argument can’t be fairly characterised as a “religious” mode of reasoning?”

        The only thing I will agree to, is that the above is complete, unintelligible, idiotic gibberish, written by someone with a very thin grasp on the English language, logic and reality in general.

        Good night and god bless.

        Comment by Ashley — April 3, 2014 @ 10:54 am

  4. So you think it is childishly silly and trivial that an issue of medical ethics involving access to women’s reproductive choices even in marriage are superseded by a group of celibate unmarried men wearing dresses to determine what is and isn’t “proper”? Your criticism here is facile.

    You, like the priestly ethics you try to defend here, conflate scientific research with the issue of medical ethics as if those involved in medicine have no legitimate role to play in determining what is and isn’t ‘proper’ treatment. That should be left to priests, apparently… and you’re okay with that. My question is on what basis do these priests assume superiority of their religious ethics over medical ethics? Not on any medical grounds. And, because you seem to have forgotten, the hospital’s policy about contraception is a medical issue because it’s a medical facility dictating medical practice to medical practitioners for hospital privileges involving medicine. Funny, that you see no problem with that… even though this kind of policy demonstrably KILLS people when respected by medical practitioners who tow the company line like the Irish example (involving everyone from the fucking Chief Executive Officer of the hospital to the doctors issuing orders to the nurses to follow religious guidelines first and respect the fetal heartbeat over and above the welfare of the mother. This is not an isolated case where real women die because religious policy to respect the fetus supersedes respecting the being whose uterus is killing her; it’s simply one of the latest outrages of this indefensible religious policy. There are thousands.)

    My point you seemed determined to miss is that “religious belief when imposed on others is fundamentally incompatible with exercising individual autonomy to hold evidence-based science, its products, and its medical practitioners in higher esteem than religious shepherds leading flocks of willing religious sheep.” You are willing to go along with this charade, making you one of these willing sheep. You’re not thinking; you’re respecting religious authority to dictate medical ethics for improper reasons. Claiming authority to allow this religious imposition on modern medicine on the basis of respecting a religious dictate on the ‘proper use of the human body’ is religious tyranny. The argument isn’t being ‘put forward’ as if we’re going to sit down some evening and muse on general ethics; it’s being IMPOSED by men on those who deliver medical treatment for medical patients by this ‘hospital’ that receives in part public funding. Medical considerations for birth control – and the autonomous rights of people to choose their medical services – are secondary to the religious doctrine that considers ANY interference with procreation to be ‘improper’. That’s not putting forward an argument. That’s aligning medical services to be a religious whore for a religious doctrine not for the medical benefit of patients or the promoting of medical expertise in a medical facility but to elevate religious doctrine to be of primary consideration in a medical practice. This is intolerable.

    Comment by tildeb — March 31, 2014 @ 10:02 am | Reply

    • “My question is on what basis do these priests assume superiority of their religious ethics over medical ethics? Not on any medical grounds”

      Your constant contrast of “religious ethics” with “medical ethics” is a false one; we are talking about two different positions within medical ethics. And why do they think their position is superior? As I said to Ashley, the Catholic Church has arguments for this stance, arguments which stem from an analysis of the proper use of the human body which can be accepted by people of many different religious stripes. By all means disagree with them, but don’t pretend that they don’t exist.

      Furthermore, in this post and your latest comment, in attempting to draw this contrast, you continually portray “medical practitioners” as a monolithic group who all disagree with the Catholic position on this issue. This is patently false.

      “That’s aligning medical services to be a religious whore [tsk tsk, tilde, I wouldn’t have thought a progressive young SJW like yourself to be a slut shamer] for a religious doctrine not for the medical benefit of patients or the promoting of medical expertise in a medical facility but to elevate religious doctrine to be of primary consideration in a medical practice. This is intolerable.

      You keep on repeating that this is a “religious doctrine” and “priestly” and so on, but as I have noted in my comments to you and Ashley, I think that this is incorrect.

      Comment by calebt45 — March 31, 2014 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

    • Your constant contrast of “religious ethics” with “medical ethics” is a false one; we are talking about two different positions within medical ethics.

      No, calebt45, we’re not and this is a rather important misunderstanding you maintain. Denying all contraception – if it is intended to be used for the purposes of contraception – to all patients is not based on anything medical. This is a fully religious stance. You compound this misunderstanding to assume I ignore that the Catholic Church has what it considers good reasons for this stance. I don’t ignore this at all; I’m saying it plays no part in medical ethics but is imposed on it… an imposition that isn’t justified on medical grounds. It is justified ONLY by religious arguments… arguments that I say have no place in modern medicine and can and does lead to unnecessary pain, suffering, and death in the name of respecting the theology more than patients. Put another way, respecting the Church’s argument and practicing medicine within its guidelines is not medicine; it’s theology imposed on and then exercised by medical practitioners.

      I’m not pretending that arguments which stem from an analysis of the proper use of the human body don’t exist. What I’m saying is that the directives being followed are not medical; they are theology. Lo and behold, look at the title of the doctrine being followed in this case: Ethical and RELIGIOUS Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (pdf) These are the ‘arguments’ of what constitutes ‘proper use of the human body.’ It describes WHAT is being imposed on the medical services offered by a hospital under Catholic control: religious ethics. Medical services are subservient to these directives. And that’s my argument: in healthcare, this hierarchy is not just ass backwards (where medicine serves the promotion and imposition of this theology on patients seeking healthcare) but dangerous to patients. That’s why I called it a medical service as a religious whore… selling itself to perform for the desires and wishes of this theological John.

      Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 10:05 am | Reply

      • Lo and behold, look at the title of the doctrine being followed in this case: Ethical and RELIGIOUS Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services.

        Yes, ethical AND religious. The distinction actually undermines your point. The document deals with issues like organ donation and abortion AND issues like the reception of Penance, the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick, and Baptism in Catholic hospitals.

        It is justified ONLY by religious arguments… These are the ‘arguments’ of what constitutes ‘proper use of the human body.

        This is false, the document you cited says:

        “The moral teachings that we profess here flow principally from the natural law, understood in the light of the revelation Christ entrusted to his Church. From this source the Church has derived its understanding of the nature of the human person, of human acts, and of the goals that shape human activity. ” </em

        And, it's a de fide Catholic teaching that the natural law can be perceived and articulated entirely apart from the Catholic Church. (CCC 1956)

        So you admit the arguments exist, but you think they are "religious" in character. The only piece of evidence you've presented for this claim is that the title of a document circulated to Catholic hospitals by the USCCB had the word "religious" in the title.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 1, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

      • Ugh. Forgot a closing angle bracket after the word “activity”.

        Comment by calebt45 — April 1, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

      • The Catholic understanding and implementation of Natural Law is “the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us.” And what is that nature? The rational creature’s participation in the eternal law. And what is eternal law? God’s wisdom. And who interprets what God’s wisdom is? In the Catholic case, that’s group of celibate unmarried men in dresses. And that’s theology in action. There IS no distinction between Catholic ethics and Catholic religion; they are one and the same thing. ‘Proper’ in the Catholic sense MUST align with Catholic doctrine. It is simply not the case that Catholic doctrine must align with any other prior consideration (like how reality actually operates). The same is true for Catholic doctrine on human rights and human dignity, both of which are defined the same way: ‘proper’ understanding of them in the Catholic sense MUST align with Catholic doctrine first. This is the eternal source of incompatibility between a justification for a claiom made by the Catholic Church about reality and it’s refusal to allow reality to be the primary consideration. That’s why so much Catholic doctrine continues to stand contrary to knowledge about the world we have earned. Its refusal to align with Catholic doctrine is an ongoing source of conflict between its pronouncements of what is ‘proper’ and its ethical implications for us in reality. For example, unfettered human population growth is considered ‘proper’ by Catholic doctrine (the basis on which any use of contraception is held to be ‘improper’ and therefore unethical according to Catholic doctrine). Is its use unethical according to reality where an unfettered population increase always ends in a massive population crash? Is a world of 20 billion, 40 billion, 100 billion people competing for finite resources through war, starvation, and mass suffering to the tune of billions and billions and billions of people more ethical that stopping an unwanted pregnancy in Bartlesville, Oklahoma? According to Catholic doctrine, the unwavering answer is yes. The predictable death and mass suffering by billions and billions of people is preferable in Catholic doctrine to some people using a condom by choice. Ponder where Catholic ethics has gone off the rails of reasonableness and you will find yourself appreciating that imposing beliefs on reality is always a good way to fool yourself. What you shouldn’t do if you respect the ethical principle involved in granting value to human rights and human dignity through equality law is force everyone else to be as foolish in the name of your interpretation of God’s wisdom.

        Comment by tildeb — April 2, 2014 @ 10:39 am

      • “There IS no distinction between Catholic ethics and Catholic religion; they are one and the same thing.”

        I disagree.

        Consider the concept of a “vomitorium”, the place at which ancient Romans would regurgitate so that they could then eat again. (Apparently it’s a myth that vomitoriums as such existed in the ancient world, but bear with me)

        Some would argue that going to the vomitorium is perverse, because the pleasure involved in eating is coupled to a certain end: that of nutrition. The perversity of the act arises, not from the fact that people are enjoying themselves, but because the pleasure has become completely decoupled from the true purpose of the digestive system. Arguments similar to this are often put forward by Catholic moral philosophers, but
        what if somebody said “I’m an atheist, but the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example above.”

        You could argue that such a person is wrong, but I don’t think that you could fairly say that this is a “religious” mode of reasoning. Do you disagree?

        Comment by calebt45 — April 3, 2014 @ 1:39 am

  5. Oh, by the way, Catholic hospitals now account for about 16 percent of hospital beds in the U.S. And in eight states — including Washington, Oregon, Iowa, and Missouri — they control more than 30 percent of beds. Ten of the 25 largest health-care networks in the country are Catholic-sponsored.

    And by making a directive for medical care based such a medical policy (in turn based on following the prescribed Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities (pdf)) aren’t these bishops and their religious minions in hospital administration illegally practicing medicine without a license?

    Sue the bastards back to the Stone Age if possible and help get religion out of medicine altogether.

    Comment by tildeb — March 31, 2014 @ 10:28 am | Reply

    • How convenient to blame Catholics for not providing medical care and facilities to populations who should be demanding these services from the state or county they pay taxes to . Since when do Catholics owe special considerations to communities that stands against their core beliefs? Secular society needs to take responsibility for it self and quit blaming Catholics for not giving them a free ride all expenses paid by the faithful. We don’t believe in abortion and our hospitals will not perform them. We consider it a mortal sin. A spiritual deal breaker. Get it?

      Comment by fordnerijoe — April 1, 2014 @ 5:55 am | Reply

      • I’m arguing that religion doesn’t belong in healthcare; best practices in healthcare should have the final say. If the religious wish to fund this, by all means. I think you might grasp the point better if in your community the only hospital was Christian Science and operated according to religious rather than medical ethics.

        Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 7:36 am

      • A spiritual deal breaker. Get it?

        Plus it plays havoc with your chakras and drains your Qi energy.

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 1, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

      • !

        Because it has been revealed to Catholic authorities that people seeking physical healthcare shouldn’t have any say in the matter when what they really require is spiritual care of the ‘proper’ kind.

        Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

  6. And how, may i ask, can science answer a moral or ethical question? Is human life worth saving? Under what circumstances? These are value judgments, and belong in the realm of religion and philosophy, not science. Science can describe what is, not what ought to be.
    And if any group, religious or otherwise, choose to set up a charitable organization, why shouldn’t it conform to the group’s own value system? If you don’t like the way they do things, you are free to start an organization of your own, but not impose your values on them.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 1, 2014 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

    • These are value judgments, and belong in the realm of religion and philosophy, not science.

      Why, and on what basis? Please demonstrate how religion has earned a place of expertise in ethics that a scientific body has not (and apparently cannot). As far as I can tell, religion has no more expertise in this assigned ‘realm’ than any other field and a great deal more bias and discrimination and less knowledge. The metric used by the Catholic Church to determine ‘proper’ is based on biblical interpretation; when it comes to medicine, what is proper is based on biblical interpretation. Should we pay attention?

      When it comes to physics, what is proper is no longer based on biblical interpretation because it has been demonstrated to be empty of knowledge value. When it comes to geology, what is proper is no longer based on biblical interpretation because ti has been demonstrated to be empty of knowledge value. When it comes to history, what is proper is not longer based on biblical interpretation because it has been demonstrated to be empty of knowledge value. Biblical interpretation has yielded zero knowledge advancements in any area it has pronounced as part of its ‘realm’. But when it comes to ethics, you think it breaks the pattern of its self-appointed method of presenting its ignorance as if it has special access to the knowledge of a divine agency to inform its claims about reality and how it operates… and yet suddenly undergoes a metamorphoses when it comes to medicine. As if by magic – POOF! – the Church becomes knowledgeable about ethics in general when it has a very long history of getting even this wrong on specific issues (Do I need to show examples? Really?).

      Come on.

      Your assertion is a faith-based belief that assigns ethics to religion – the same religious organization that just so happens to have protected and enabled a global pedophile ring for centuries – and make such a pronouncement as if true. It’s not, and the sooner you realize that the Church’s claim to ethical expertise is as empty as the claim that we descend from a single couple, the better. Your belief doesn’t make it true and reality shows the paucity of what informs it. Religious claim to expertise in matters of ethics is richly deserving of our condemnation.

      Comment by tildeb — April 1, 2014 @ 10:41 pm | Reply

      • JFYI, Tribulation Saint is Bob from the bearnobserver blog. Something about wordpress problems so now he’s got a new handle and blog.

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 2, 2014 @ 4:13 am

      • You equated “religion” with one particular church — the Roman Catholic Church. Some of us are not Catholics (I happen to be a conservative evangelical Protestant.)
        And you still haven’t answered the question of how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of a Supreme Being.

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 2, 2014 @ 5:24 am

      • …. how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of a Supreme Being.

        how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of Mega Magical Bigfoot.
        how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of Collosus.
        how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of Cthlhulu.
        how you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of a Baal.

        (…sniff…)
        Good times.

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 2, 2014 @ 10:04 am

      • I see he still hasn’t learned why this method of justification is a pitfall he seems determined to keep falling into.

        As soon as we determine a metric for comparing and contrasting value judgements, we can use science. For example, we can use human well-being and determine by scientific methods whether effects from supporting this value or that value increase or decrease this state.

        I don’t know why so many people can’t figure this out but recluse themselves from challenging religious authority as a whole that claims they and they alone can determine value judgements. That’s ridiculous and transparently false when we see religious authorities engaged in supporting a value-based behaviour we know causes real harm to real people in real life and creates victims. This evidence stands contrary to the claim that value judgements belong to religion because only they can justifiably arrive at them. Well, they seem particularly good at arriving at value judgements that are unethical and immoral when human well-being (and not God’s pleasure) is used as a metric.

        Comment by tildeb — April 2, 2014 @ 10:55 am

  7. “And if any group, religious or otherwise, choose to set up a restaurant, why shouldn’t it conform to the group’s own value system? If you don’t like the way they do things, you are free to eat somewhere else on your own your own, but not impose your values on them.”

    Fox’s Bernie Goldberg Cut Off Responding to Civil Rights Question

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 2, 2014 @ 4:22 am | Reply

  8. “As soon as we determine a metric for comparing and contrasting value judgements, we can use science. For example, we can use human well-being and determine by scientific methods whether effects from supporting this value or that value increase or decrease this state.”
    The problem here is that we use our values to define human well-being and not the other way around. Most of the conflicts in society stem from competing value systems and the resulting different definitions of “well-being.” Marxist Socialism had one definition of well-being; free market capitalism has another.
    You could lecture (or preach to) a drug addict about his terrible state of well-being, but you would have a hard time convincing most of them because they would rather be high.
    It is also hard to see how you can measure abstract qualities such as honesty, faithfulness, and compassion.
    Is morality a matter of what we want to do? Or what we should do?

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 2, 2014 @ 11:50 am | Reply

    • Is morality a matter of what we want to do? Or what we should do?

      Good questions but you ruin it when you reach for a magical answer.
      There are plenty of questions out there in the real world.
      Some of them quite difficult.

      Where do babies come from?
      Why is the sky blue?
      What is morality?
      Why are flowers pretty?

      All these questions and more can be answered with “Baal did it”.

      Or Santa.
      Or the Tooth Fairy.

      But that would be silly.
      When you figure out why, then you’ll be able to understand why your magical answer waiting in the wings is silly too.
      Some questions are quite difficult. Quite often, a suitable answer is not forthcoming. That doesn’t give you licence to fill in the blanks with whatever geographically-related mumbojumbo most appeals to you.

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 2, 2014 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

    • The way to think about metrics and comparative values is to use the analogy of, say, a meter. One could argue that a meter is an arbitrary unit of measurement… no better or worse than, say, a yard… and because of this lack of precision to be dependent on a sense of measurement brought to choosing one over the other.

      The same argument can be brought forward against something like human well-being, that well-being requires values brought to it in order to describe what it is.

      What is overlooked in this approach is the essential difference science can offer us by means of comparison.

      Regardless of what constitutes a meter (one on millionth of the distance between the equator and the pole) or a yard (the distance between the nose and the fingers of an outstretched arm), science can help us calculate to a remarkable degree various differences of measurement within each system. In the same way, science can help us calculate to a remarkable degree various differences of increase or decrease within the system of values called human well-being. We don’t need to determine exactly what the unit is (the metric we are using) to be able to accurately compare and contrast increases or decreases. We can take a value claim from any source and use science to help us figure out if there are increases or decreases to human well being approximately defined. I’m not going to go into that here and now, but we can have a general sense of what constitutes human well-being and use science to help us determine the value of this or that to this general sense. This is, after all, how religion addresses values… by using the metric of God’s pleasure. The problem, of course, is that this metric has no association with reality. We need something a bit more… commonly accessible, and by doing so will vastly improve what constitutes improvements or regressions in human well-being.

      Comment by tildeb — April 2, 2014 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

      • All of that sounds great in the abstract, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. You say that “we can have a general sense of what constitutes human well-being.” That, of course, is what the whole debate is about.
        Let’s take a concrete example. And since we’re talking about medical ethics, let’s suppose that a pregnant woman tells her gynecologist that she wants to terminate here pregnancy. This is strictly a matter between her and her doctor, so we’re told, but how is the doctor to decide the matter? How would science provide an answer?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 2, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

      • It’s the doctor’s professional obligation (working under the medical board’s ethical guidelines) to provide this patient with informed medical advice, consult with the patient, and then provide whatever services she decides. The medical board’s ethical guidelines are based on knowledge produced by the scientific method. Without this knowledge, the guidelines would be unrelated to reality. I happen to think that matters, that reality has a fundamental role to play in producing knowledge.

        Comment by tildeb — April 3, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  9. Look, because reality does not produce compelling evidence from reality for claims of supernatural causal agencies active in the world, we find the same kind of rationalizations at work propping up all kinds of faith-based beliefs (not just religious). These rationalizations utilize logic and mistake correct logical form for evidence as a substitute for reality. This is what we see being played out here by Cale and Bob. They each want to believe something is true about reality – that there really, really, really is an interactive supernatural causal agency raising their special friend from the dead – and turn to logic as if it can successfully do what reality can’t: produce compelling and rational reasons by way of logical form for the belief and then use the conclusions reached to be sufficient. The problem is that the truth value of the premises in reality must be assumed in order to link them to the correct logical conclusion and therefore be reflective of the reality this claim is trying vainly to describe. All this rationalization does is shift the problem from the conclusion’s broken link from reality to the premises’ broken link from reality. This is a methodological failure but the best one available to those who wish to impose on reality a belief that is not supported by it. To those concerned with reality supporting beliefs held about it, this kind of argument is equivalent to talking to those who insist the tin foil hat really, really, really does work to deflect alien rays that seek control of the wearer. They’re not interested in whether the rays are true in reality; they are only interested in convincing others of the reasonableness, the logic, the efficacy, of the tin foil hat.

    Comment by tildeb — April 3, 2014 @ 11:29 am | Reply

    • What constitutes “reality” is at the heart of the whole debate here. If the scientific method is the only way we can get at reality, then the only reality is physical matter. But all science can do is to describe physical matter as it actually exists. There is no ideal or spiritual reality into which temporal, physical reality must be brought into conformity. But it is precisely that that creates the problem in ethics. Science can tell us what is; it cannot tell us what ought to be.
      Some scientists, such as the late Steven J. Gould, are willing to recognize science’s limitations in this area, and concede that religion has an important role to play in defining society’s values. But others might be tempted to take a more Utilitarian approach, and treat ethics and morality as a kind of engineering problem. Somehow, as a society, we decide what would be best for us and then science can figure out how to get there. In this scenario there is not sense of duty or obligation to any transcendent reality. We simply act out of a collective sense of self-interest.
      But even that does not resolve all of the difficulties. To return to our pregnancy case, you refer to the medical board’s ethical guidelines. But if you were on the medical board, how would you determine what the guidelines should be about abortion? How would science determine whether or not a clinically normal pregnancy should be terminated?

      Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 3, 2014 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

      • Reality can be understood to be what exists. The best method we have for this enquiry is the use of a tool called practical or pragmatic methodological naturalism… a provisory and empirically grounded commitment to naturalistic causes and explanations, which in principle is revocable by extraordinary empirical evidence… with over 400 years of dramatic gains in knowledge about how reality operates. It is on this knowledge that we build technologies, applications, and therapies that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time independently of whatever conflicting beliefs we bring to bear. These identical results are often dependent on identical causal factors best represented by empiricism. The notion that this method rejects anything that isn’t material is laughably wrong. A very great deal of knowledge is about stable relationships between things that posses no independent materials (consider our understanding of rates of descent or inertia or defining force or what have you that are demonstrably understood to be constants here, there, and probably everywhere.

        The discussion changes tack when we start talking about dependent beliefs. Dependent beliefs are not part of reality. They don’t exist independent of those holding the beliefs. The method of science requires something to work with, so these beliefs only come into scientific consideration when they are used to justify claims about reality, about how these beliefs are used as motivation and justification for actions that can be understood to be causal agencies for effect. Now we are talking about science, about linking cause with effect and producing changes to reality. There is no magical border between science and, say, religion when such claims about reality are made.

        In a nutshell, ethics usually are about practice, about behaviour, about rules of conduct, about actions that are right and wrong within a system or framework that is applicable. (Morality is usually about principles on a spectrum of good and evil.) Professional bodies usually have just such a code to which its practitioners agree to follow in order to be accepted into the ranks of the profession. This code is the ethical standard used by its members to determine what constitutes right and wrong behaviour done in the name of that profession. For example, physicians in Bartlesville Oklahoma granted a medical license to practice by the American Medical Association fall under this code of conduct. For a hospital to pronounce policies and procedures for granting privileges contrary to legal access to contraception contravenes this code of conduct in many important ways and they will be successfully sued for trying to do this… not because there’s a ‘war’ against religion but because religious considerations are secondary to appropriate patient care.

        Any professional who places his or her own preferences, bias, prejudices, beliefs, personal choices, ahead of the ethical standards necessarily indicates a breach of contract for the licensing by that profession. I may be a pharmacist convinced that filling a prescription for RU486 is immoral but that personal sense I have plays no part in meeting my ethical obligations to fill that prescription. If I cannot in good conscience fill that prescription, then I should be stripped of my license for my failure to carry out my legal professional obligations I have agreed to carry out. The same is true for a doctor more concerned with meeting hospital religious policies than working first and foremost as a patient advocate and providing a script for appropriate contraception when asked. That’s why all the doctors and all the nurse and all the pharmacists should leave Bartlesville if their professional ethical standards are being attacked by the hospital’s unprofessional policies putting them at risk for their licenses to practice.

        Abortion services are part and parcel of women’s reproductive healthcare. Abortion, according to the AMA, is a medical procedure and should be performed only by a duly licensed physician in conformance with standards of good medical practice and the laws of the state. In addition, the AMA also holds that the early termination of pregnancy is a medical matter between the patient and the physician, subject to the physician’s clinical judgment, the patient’s informed consent, and the availability of appropriate facilities. The guidelines are legal ones where the physician is obligated to respect the rights and dignity of the patient. One of those rights is to have abortion on demand. It doesn’t matter if the physician believes this is unethical or immoral; the patient according to the AMA must have her legal rights respected. The doctor can opt out (a terrible decision and professional cop-out in my opinion) and even refuse to refer the patient to another physician. This is the politics of the anti-choice movement in action being played out in patients lives by the denial of medical services to which she is fully entitled by facilitators of these medical ethical standards.

        Why you presume to have some say over a woman’s uterus is a mystery to me, any more than a woman who presumes to have some say over how you discharge your sperm. It takes a colossal amount of arrogance to presume this interference is justified by moral and ethical considerations greater than the rights and dignity of the woman. Clearly, they are not greater (or you would be enjoying legal interference in how, when, where, and by what methods you may discharge your sperm to meet the requirements of some group of sperm-addled nutters) but an imposition of staggering proportions contrary to respecting human rights and dignity of personal autonomy.

        Comment by tildeb — April 3, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

    • You’ve asserted in this latest post that false beliefs result from “reality denial” and “imposing belief upon reality”.

      You didn’t answer my reply to this last time you said this: isn’t it the case that false beliefs are often formed, not by a conscious “denial of reality” but rather by people improperly understanding information or simply being ignorant of certain arguments?

      I’ll ask my question again, and I’d appreciate if you attempted to answer it:

      Consider the concept of a “vomitorium”, the place at which ancient Romans would regurgitate so that they could then eat again. (Apparently it’s a myth that vomitoriums as such existed in the ancient world, but bear with me)

      Some would argue that going to the vomitorium is perverse, because the pleasure involved in eating is coupled to a certain end: that of nutrition. The perversity of the act arises, not from the fact that people are enjoying themselves, but because the pleasure has become completely decoupled from the true purpose of the digestive system. Arguments similar to this are often put forward by Catholic moral philosophers.

      But, a person could could say “I’m an atheist, and I believe that the use of the sexual faculties is directed toward is procreation, and deliberately decoupling the activity from that end is immoral, in an analogous sense to the example of the vomitorium above.”

      I don’t think that you could fairly say that this is a “faith-based” or “religious” line of argument. Do you disagree?

      Comment by Cale B.T. — April 3, 2014 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

      • What I said was that you – and people who try to justify claims about reality by means of faith – “impose on reality a belief that is not supported by it.” To demonstrate the accuracy of this observation, I point out that you cannot produce any evidence to support that the reanimation of dead cells is possible to support your belief claim that Jesus was reanimated. To believe such a claim requires faith, requires an imposition on reality of a belief that is not supported by reality. I also point out that this faith-based approach is a methodological failure that produces zero knowledge. It not only produces pseudo-answers that answer nothing but justifies causing real harm to real people in real life and calls this ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’. That’s how badly this methodology can fool people. It is richly deserving of criticism.

        Feel free to wax on about vomitoriums to your heart’s content and try to weave atheism into play as if this in any way addresses the accuracy of my observation about faith-based belief in action when it doesn’t. Go ahead and formulate a sophisticated theological deduction using logic to support whatever faith-based claim you want as if this in any way adequately replaces the lack of evidence from reality for these kind of claims. I’m not going to try to stop you. But if you should ever care to comment on the accuracy of my observation – and point out where it is supposedly inaccurate – specifically, that your belief in the resurrection is based solely on faith, that would be great and actually add to the conversation.

        Medical policies based on such faith-based beliefs are contraindicated by effects they produce… effects that harm the quality of medical care patients receive. This is demonstrable. Such is the legacy of using the broken methodology we call faith in the real world we share. As far as I can tell, it’s never a wise course of action to use this method but a guaranteed way to fool one’s self into thinking that reality is susceptible to the beliefs we hold about it.

        Comment by tildeb — April 3, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  10. But you’re still not answering the question. In your original blog post you insisted that religion should stay out of health care and that questions of medical ethics should be settled by science, and what I am questioning is how science can settle an ethical question. Your response has been basically to punt the ball from one party to another — the doctor defers to the medical board, the medical board defers to the AMA, the AMA defers to the state legislature. So then the question becomes, how does the state legislature use science to determine a moral or ethical question such as abortion?
    I should also mention that if a Christian really believes that God exists he must be prepared to engage in civil disobedience and suffer the consequences, precisely because of the reluctance of human society in general to accept transcendent moral norms. And as western culture becomes progressively dechristianized we will see more and more of this.
    But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion? If American women have a right to an abortion by virtue of a U.S. Supreme ruling, does that mean that Saudi Arabian women are rightfully not permitted to drive cars by virtue of a royal decree? If morality is ultimately man-made, that would seem to be the inescapable conclusion. What the king says is law, at least in his domain!

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 3, 2014 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

    • What I said was that religion should stay out of medicine, “Because it has nothing to do with providing best practices healthcare and everything to do with promoting its theology! And the problem becomes obvious when authority for healthcare decisions must pass through religious leadership that determines – based on theology and not medicine – if best practices ALIGNS with its dogma.”

      What we’re talking about isn’t ethics in medicine; it’s best practices. Medical best practices. It’s theology that is trying vainly to make best medical practices into an ethical question that proclaims itself the authority.

      Explain to us, if you would be so kind, as to how you strapping on a condom (for a variety of scientifically demonstrated reasons of efficacy and for a variety of self-appointed ethical, moral, and medicinal reasons for which you take full responsibility) is the business of a bunch of celibate unmarried men wearing dresses?

      Right. It’s not… unless you yourself appoint these ‘guardians of your ejaculate’ to have authority. You certainly don’t appoint them to be such on any medical grounds. If I’m mistaken, please point out what medical grounds these celibate unmarried men wearing dresses deserve to be guardians of your ejaculate. And the respect you hold for your own ability to determine what is ethically and morally permissible for your ejaculate and your willingness to be responsible for those decisions must be the same respect you then maintain for women and their eggs fertilized or not. It’s not your business unless you are willing to allow celibate unmarried women in suits to gather and decide on how best to treat your ejaculate and make conditions of when, where, and how you may do so.

      Even if you’re willing to do this, I grant you no authority on my behalf to transfer my responsibility for my ethical and moral and medical decisions to some other self-appointed guardians. To do so is the height of stupidity, immaturity, and irresponsibility that leads to tyranny. And that’s not a defensible ethical or moral position worthy of the names.

      Comment by tildeb — April 3, 2014 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

      • Are you saying that ethics has not bearing in the practice of medicine? That we should not concern ourselves about whether or not it is morally permissible to use human experiments?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 4, 2014 @ 5:41 am

    • But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?
      But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of magic?
      (shrug)

      Bob, you really need to look at what you are saying. The rest of us are.

      …does that mean that Saudi Arabian women are rightfully not…

      Saudi Arabia is a religious country. They justify their laws in the presence of their religion. I’m surprised you don’t know that.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_for_the_Promotion_of_Virtue_and_the_Prevention_of_Vice_(Saudi_Arabia)

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 4, 2014 @ 1:44 am | Reply

      • So how does science determine morality? Or does science dispense with it altogether?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 4, 2014 @ 5:43 am

      • I think the real question here is “But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?”

        See what I did there?

        (awkward silence)

        Which brings us back to….

        “But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of magic?”

        Plus, of course, there’s your Saudi Arabia thing. It’s a religious country. Honest.

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 4, 2014 @ 8:07 am

  11. Cedric, you lived in Russia for a while. What happened to Russian society when it dispensed with religion? Was it able to find a firm basis for moral action? What was it like when you were there?

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 5, 2014 @ 6:38 am | Reply

    • I wonder what kind of country you’d end up with if religion was relegated strictly to private individuals and could not be used in any way whatsoever in the governing of the country. Like say….there was a something that forbade the use of any kind of religious beliefs to pass laws or anything of that nature. Maybe make it part of a constitution or something like that? The complete separation of church and state. I wonder what kind of country that would be?…….Hmmmm.

      Comment by Ashley — April 5, 2014 @ 7:57 am | Reply

      • We don’t need to look far — there have actually been countries like that.

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 5, 2014 @ 9:19 am

      • Yes. It’s called the United States of America. They’ve have that in their constitution since 1776. As far as I know, it’s the only country on earth that’s ever made the stipulation to have religion and government matters separated.

        Comment by Ashley — April 5, 2014 @ 10:58 am

    • What happened to Russian society when it dispensed with religion?

      I think the real question here is “But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?”
      (shrug)

      What was it like when you were there?

      Very religious.
      Putin and Co. have a very cozy relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. They are not exactly strapped for cash. Did you see those youtube videos tours of the private residences (more like palaces) of the Ukranian President and the Attorney General after they fled the country a couple of months back? Gaudy, tacky, ostentatious and groaning under the weight of religious ikons and church bric-a-brac.
      Check it out. It will disgust you.

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 5, 2014 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  12. Now if we can just get stupid idiots like Jefferson, Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. to stop blathering about “higher laws” and “God-given rights” we could get back to the real business of America, which is making money.
    (Actually, what the Founding Fathers said in 1776 was “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . .” The U.S. Constitution wasn’t ratified until 1788 and the First Amendment wasn’t added until 1791.)
    There are a number of countries that have separated church from state. The one I was thinking of was the USSR, where the government relentlessly attacked religion. The US has freedom OF religion (the free exercise clause); France and other countries have freedom FROM religion. If I understand Tildeb correctly Tildeb is a zealous advocate of the latter, denying freedom of conscience to religious organizations who wish to engage in charitable work. That was the Soviet system.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 5, 2014 @ 11:39 am | Reply

    • If you’ve been talking this long to tildeb and have concluded that he wants to prevent religious organizations from doing charitable work, and if that’s what you think freedom “from” religion really means (which is obviously different from freedom “of” religion – ????) then bravo for you.

      Comment by Ashley — April 5, 2014 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  13. Bob, what you have done is to follow a pattern. It’s ritual by now. Not just with you but with any religious person with the uncontrollable desire to preach on the internet.

    From your own blog you state….“Take away the Lawgiver, and nothing is left but the law of the jungle.

    To which I answered…”Take away Baal and nothing is left but the law of the jungle. Take away Santa and nothing is left but the law of the jungle.”

    Later, on this blog, you try the same shtick with….,“But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?”
    To which I replied…..”But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of magic?”.

    What you have is an unsupported assertion.
    It never changes.
    When somebody challenges that assertion rather that meekly accept it, you immediately abandon your position.
    Always.
    Then you go for an attempt to shift the burden of proof.
    No matter how the person responds, you can then go for the False Dichotomy Fallacy which, by a very strange coincidence, happens to allow your position to win by default.
    Clever, eh?

    This is the way all religious people argue on the internet. It is eternal and unchanging.
    It’s an exercise in deceit.

    God Is Always Right!

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 5, 2014 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

    • I didn’t make an assertion — I asked a question in response to Tildeb’s assertion “The ongoing incompatibility between faith-based and science-adduced practices is so obvious, so ludicrous, so ethically screwed up, that its a mystery anyone with two neurons to rub together might think this hierarchy for determining services is in any way reasonable. It’s not; the truly delusional inmates are running the asylum… or, in this case, the hospital and its medical services.” Although it is not entirely clear if Tildeb is saying 1) ethics has nothing to do with sound medical practice, or 2) medical ethics should be determined by science, not religion.

      Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 5, 2014 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

      • Hmmm, I thought it was pretty clear was tildeb was saying. Religious belief, used as a substitute for medical knowledge is a stupid idea. Not only is it stupid, it’s harmful and sometimes fatal. Celibate men, in dresses who believe in superstitious, supernatural nonsense are not qualified to make medical decisions based solely on that belief. Medical ethics should not be based on religion. Medical ethics are not within the purview of religion. It’s what we’ve been saying (tildeb, cedric and myself) for 60-odd posts now. Unshakable, un-challengeable belief without evidence – that’s within the purview of religion. Medical knowledge is not arrived at by using this methodology, nor are medical ethics.
        You did make an assertion, whether you recognize it or not. Have you ever heard of the term “loaded question”? This is an example of a loaded question: “But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?” You have presumed that religion is necessary in order to justify morality. That would be what’s called an assertion. That’s why Cedric keeps asking you to justify morality in the absence of magic, or Ba’al or Santa Claus, etc. and you keep on not answering. Because it’s a stupid question and you can’t answer it. The difference between him and you is that he knows exactly how stupid his question is, whereas you, I am afraid, do not.

        Comment by Ashley — April 5, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

  14. The hypothesis that I would advance as an alternative to Cedric’s is Intelligent Design, which I am perfectly willing to discuss. But Tildeb’s blog post was specifically about whether or not medical ethics should be based on religion, as you stated it. But science is the study of reality as it is, not as it should be. I have yet to see anyone explain how an ethical principle can be derived from science. (My point here is that Tildeb’s thesis here is ludicrous, to be blunt about it.)

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 5, 2014 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

    • So if I can get this straight…
      You’ve never seen anyone explain how an ethical principle can be derived from science, therefore tildeb’s position that religion cannot be used to derive ethics is ludicrous. Tildeb is wrong therefore you are right. I see. Very interesting. What was that about a false dichotomy Cedric mentioned a few posts ago? Oh well, I’m sure it wasn’t that important.
      Science is the study of what is. Religion is the study of nothing. It is an affirmation of faith (belief without evidence). It is a belief in superstitious, supernatural nonsense.
      Not really sure what hypothesis of Cedric’s intelligent design is an alternative to….

      Comment by Ashley — April 5, 2014 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

      • “Religion is the study of nothing. It is an affirmation of faith (belief without evidence). It is a belief in superstitious, supernatural nonsense.” You’re begging the question, Ashley. I certainly wouldn’t agree with any of these statements. Whether or not they are true is a matter of debate.
        My experience is that most atheists with scientific backgrounds will deny that they are nihilists and will resort to some form of Utilitarianism to establish a basis for morality. But Tildeb has not actually said that and I do not want to put words in Tildeb’s mouth. Let’s let Tildeb explain his/herself.

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 6, 2014 @ 5:37 am

      • My experience is that most atheists with scientific backgrounds will deny that they are nihilists….

        Bob, your experience with atheists is decidedly limited. You struggle even to grasp what atheism means despite repeated, well-meaning attempts to explain it to you. It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s effortlessly easy to understand.
        From your own blog there come these gems…

        ….atheist morality works when you read about….

        No Bob. There is no “atheist morality”. Nor is there an “atheist hair style”.

        … were Existentialists, which meant they had a specific kind of atheism.

        No Bob. Existentialism is not a specific kind of atheism. Atheism is really, really easy to understand.

        …Nihilists…

        No, that’s not it Bob. Ever wonder why atheists deny that they are nihilists? Think hard, Bob. Could it be that….they’re simply not? That the whole nihilism, existentialism, atheist morality/worldview ramblings all come from your fevered imaginings?

        But Tildeb has not actually said that and I do not want to put words in Tildeb’s mouth.

        It’s never stopped you before.

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 6, 2014 @ 7:13 am

      • ““Religion is the study of nothing. It is an affirmation of faith (belief without evidence). It is a belief in superstitious, supernatural nonsense.” You’re begging the question, Ashley. I certainly wouldn’t agree with any of these statements. Whether or not they are true is a matter of debate.”
        I’m not begging any question. I never even asked a question. I made a statement. Do you know the difference between a statement and a question? The question is the one that ends with a ? at the end of it. It’s not that surprising that since you actually believe in superstitious non-sense that you’d “disagree” with my statement. There’s no debate required to determine wether religion is based on superstitious supernatural nonsense. You just finished telling us that you’d advance the case for ID….which requires a supernatural creator to be responsible for the creation of the entire universe. And while we are at it, we’re not really talking about religion in general are we? We’re talking about your specific religion, which I am going to go ahead and guess is Christianity. (and tildeb further subdivided it by talking specifically about the Catholic sect of Christianity) Please correct me if I am wrong. I already know in advance, that whatever religion you subscribe to, you’ve rejected the supernatural claims of other religions. Of every other religion that’s ever existed as a matter of fact. So you’re an atheist as far as all of those religions are concerned. I would wager don’t even give any of those gods or religions a millisecond of thought at any point in your day. Have you ever sat and wondered why there are so many religions and gods in the world? Ever wonder why gods and religions come and go through the ages? Ever sit and wonder why you’re right and everyone else who doesn’t believe as you do, is wrong? Ever sit and wonder why your supernatural claims are right and everyone else’s are wrong? I didn’t think so.
        We need religion to determine morality? Fine. Sharia shall now be the new method by which we govern ourselves in Canada. Start boning up on your Koran Tribulation Saint, you’re gonna need it – especially when it comes to laws concerning blasphemy. I’d suggest you study those up real quick.
        Now that I’ve used religion, society can justify its moral conclusions. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

        Comment by Ashley — April 6, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    • The hypothesis that I would advance as an alternative to Cedric’s is Intelligent Design….

      You have a blog. Advance it.
      Only I give you fair warning from even before you start that it won’t work. As a freebie, I’ll even tell you why.
      Intelligent Design is meaningless. It’s an empty buzzword.
      Take the word “hypothesis”, for example. That means something quite specific. If you try and claim that something is a hypothesis (including Intelligent Design) then I would
      a) quickly review what the word hypothesis means and
      b) see how you justify calling ID a hypothesis.

      Sounds fairly simple, yeah?
      Not exactly a mean trick or anything.
      Well, the thing is that people who throw in their lot with ID don’t really know what they are talking about. They’ve never bothered to peek behind the curtain.
      If you think that you can make an argument for ID then go for it.
      Just don’t do the same, tired, predictable arguments that have gone before and were soundly defeated on the internet.

      That’s the beauty of the internet. The arguments are still there. All the failed ones and the successful ones. Any religious person, before they get started, can take advantage of the previous attempts and avoid the usual pitfalls and rebuttals. Well, theoretically they could. Only they never do. The desire to preach gets in the way and so they just launch into it with more confidence that common sense.
      So before you start, take the time to find out how other promoters fared when they tried to preach about ID.
      There’s lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of simple and effective rebuttals on youtube for example. It’s topic that atheists and even other Christians delight in exposing. Plus, if you want something more highbrow, then I have one word for you.
      Dover.

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 5, 2014 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  15. You folks (Ashley and Cedric) still haven’t explained how society can justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 6, 2014 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

    • And you haven’t explained how society can justify it’s moral conclusions in the absence of tooth fairies.
      (and I believe I did point out that the US has an entire society, built by ensuring that religion and politics be kept separate. That all laws that govern the country are mandated to NOT include religion – have you forgotten that already? I just wrote it yesterday!!!)
      TRY ANOTHER ARGUMENT.

      Comment by Ashley — April 6, 2014 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

    • Wow. Bob, it’s your question that is the problem not the absence of any answers from those you keep asking. The problem is revealed when we substitute nouns like ‘magic’ or ‘tooth fairy’. Religion is a non sequitur in this question.

      Comment by tildeb — April 6, 2014 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

      • Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that you are right — that religion has no more substance or validity than tooth fairies. How do we make ethical decisions now? If you are a physician at the Jane Phillips Medical Center you often find yourself involved in life and death decisions involving your patients. How do you make them? How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Do the categories “right” and “wrong” even make sense anymore?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 6, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

      • Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that you are right — that religion has no more substance or validity than tooth fairies. How do we make ethical decisions now?

        You’re still asking the same question. You’ve just awkwardly shorn off the awkward bit that you can’t defend.
        It’s still assertion, followed by shifting the burden of proof, followed by false dichotomy where your home-brand religion wins magically by default.

        How do we make ethical decisions now?

        Why “now”? What’s so special about “now”? Oh, you mean….now that religion has no more substance or validity than tooth fairies?
        Oh Bob. You are so close. So very, very close.
        You see, it’s not “now”. It’s yesterday.
        Yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Religion never had substance. It’s all mumbo-jumbo and smoke and mirrors.
        Ethical decisons are not actually based upon religion. Nor are they based upon magic.

        Do the categories “right” and “wrong” even make sense anymore?

        Your religion did not give you “right” and “wrong” in the first place.
        If you became an atheist right this second, you would probably not start eating little babies.
        (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.)

        Ethics are real. We wrestle with them all the time. People making decisions about right and wrong are real. Gods, demons, ghosts, etc are not.

        Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that you are right — that Thor has no more substance or validity than tooth fairies. How do we get rain now?

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 6, 2014 @ 9:26 pm

      • How do we know what’s right and wrong? How about using common sense for a start? How about by discarding superstitious un-challengeable non-answers? Long reflection. Why would this be good or that be good? Do all benefit? Does it cause needless suffering? Are all being treated equal? These questions will NOT be answered by referring them upward to a celestial dictator who will provide answers to specially appointed human interpreters that cannot be questioned and can never be changed.

        Comment by Ashley — April 6, 2014 @ 9:30 pm

      • How do you make them? How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Do the categories “right” and “wrong” even make sense anymore?

        Perhaps the most horrible thing about the way Bob thinks is that he can’t grasp “the other”.
        Ethic and morals flow from his magical, invisible friend that he just happens to have been brought up believing.
        Lucky him. Too bad for the rest of the planet full of baby eaters.
        Don’t accept his magical friend? Goodness gracious me! Where on Earth do you get your morals from without his geographically specific magical friend?

        Bob, there are other societies out there. Societies that have nothing to do with your religion.
        Ethics? Morals? They have them by the truckload.
        Yet they don’t just auto-attribute them to your local brand god. Probably most of them would attribute them to THEIR local brand gods…..using YOUR own arguments.
        Remember how I keep switching the labels around?
        Ever wonder why?
        Ever?

        While you’re busy completely ignoring my point yet again, I would like to mention that Thailand is a Buddhist nation.

        “Unsung Hero” (Official HD) : TVC Thai Life Insurance 2014 : โฆษณ

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 6, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

  16. I keep asking the same question because you still haven’t answered it.
    It is absolutely true that most human beings have an innate sense of right and wrong even if they are not Christian — even if they are atheists. It’s called the conscience. The Christian explanation is that this is the law of God written on the human heart. The philosophical problem for the atheist is how to account for this innate sense of morality if God doesn’t exist. If we insist that our decisions must be reality based, and that religion is merely faith in something for which there is no evidence, then how do we know that the dictates of our conscience are valid? After all, one of the reasons for the existence of God is our conscience — our innate sense that there must be a supreme law-giver in the universe. But if our intuitions about God are incorrect, that we are merely being delusional, then what about our intuitions about morality? Do they have any basis in reality? Or is this another example of believing in something for which there is no evidence? What evidence is there for morality?
    The answer of science is none whatsoever. It is an observable fact that we often feel guilty about our behavior, but it is also an observable fact that we engage in “bad’ behavior nonetheless. But science cannot even call it “bad.” That is a subjective value judgment that has no place in science.
    To go back to one of Tildeb’s earlier comments, (and so far only Tildeb has attempted an answer to the question) if we argue that general human well being is the goal of ethics, and that science can determine what that is (Utilitaianism) then morality becomes a matter of economics. Money is what we use to buy the things that contribute to our individual well-being — money is how we attach value to things. And if it is to my economic advantage to lie, cheat and steal, then I will do so. And in this amoral universe of ours, who is to tell me that I have violated some sort of imaginary “moral law”?

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 7, 2014 @ 5:44 am | Reply

    • The christian explanation is no explanation at all; it’s a pseudo-answer unrelated in any way to reality. And science can tell us a very great deal about our sense of right and wrong. It can tell us that all human share a fundamental sense of fairness – regardless of gender, language, culture, religion, and age. If this same sense of fairness is present regardless of these variables, then it makes no sense to try to attach the ’cause’ of this sense to any of them… including incompatible and contrary religious doctrines that pretend to tell us about the ineffable. What does make sense and yield knowledge is, using the method of science, to investigate the biological roots behind this common trait. It is here, using science, that we can start to gain what you pretend to seek: knowledge about ethics and morality. You’ve already jettisoned science based on he belief that because ethics and morality involve values, there must necessarily be no scientific contribution and so any old superstitious nonsense is therefore justified. God did it. Magic does it. The tooth fairy is responsible. And so on… none of which adds anything to learning about human behaviour based on ethical and moral consideration. And that’s why implementing some means to compare and contrast effects of human behaviour (using a metric that can be useful in collecting evidence from reality… such as human well being… rather than a metric that is not… such as actions pleasing to god) is far more productive gaining knowledge than inserting some version of Oogity Boogity!.

      So your assertion that science has been ruled out from contributing to our understanding of human behaviour and motivations is entirely false based on the assumption you make that it must be used as a determinant of human values. Human values are expressed in behaviour and we can use science to tell us much more about that than any imposed belief system in supernaturalism and what is pleasing to the purposes of hidden agencies that supposedly inhabit it. To describe morality in terms of philosophy and religion is empty of knowledge value until they are put to use using science. And for us to do this require us to put aside our childish beliefs in some authoritarian super father figure and look at ourselves in terms of our biology.

      Comment by tildeb — April 7, 2014 @ 7:50 am | Reply

      • Well, the plot thickens! First of all, you’re confusing a psychological trait with an objective code of conduct. No one denies the presence of the former; the question involves the latter (see my response to Ashley, below).
        But you raise another interesting point. You tell us that science can tell us about “the biological roots behind this common trait.” If morality (in the sense of a psychological trait) is biologically determined, does that mean that all human psychology is biologically determined? And if our thought processes are biologically determined, do they bear any necessary relationship to external, objective reality? Is a proposition true because it is demonstrably true, or only because we are programmed to think a certain way? What about your own scientific research. Is it valid? What makes it so?
        The only “metric” of which I know to “to compare and contrast effects of human behaviour” is economics. And as Ashley pointed out below ” People all over the world, do this [i.e., lie, cheat and steel} every single day of the week. Organized Crime members MAKE A LIVING doing this – and killing people at the same time.” The sad fact of the matter is that in many cases crime pays — does that make it right? If not, why?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 7, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

      • “On the one hand there is the question of whether or not there is an objective moral code that is binding on everyone.”. You say, yes there is – a “supreme law giver” (god) gives it to us. Then once again, I ask you to explain sociopaths, psychopaths, serial killers, etc. If a god does in fact “give” this “objective moral code that is binding on everyone” (morals), then there must be an explanation as to why there are people who act as if the “supreme law giver” has not given them the “objective moral code that is binding on everyone” (morals). Please explain.
        “Is it possible to posit the existence of an objective moral code if there is no supreme law-giver?” You can re-word your original question ” how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?” in as many different ways as you like, it doesn’t make it any less stupid. It’s still the logical fallacy of the loaded question.
        To copy Cedric “Is it possible to posit the existence of rain if there is no supreme rain-giver?”
        Is there any particular reason why you appear to be absolutely committed to making the same mistakes over and over and over again?
        So far in 20 to 30-odd posts your argument has followed the same circular pattern. You offer no evidence, you don’t even offer a coherent argument.

        You: “God gives us morals”
        Us: “On what basis and with what evidence do you make that assertion?”
        You: “Well if god doesn’t give us morals, where do they come from hunh?!?!?!”
        Us: “That’s a logical fallacy of a loaded question. It’s stupid and it can’t be answered. We’re not required to answer it. You’ve reversed the burden of proof”
        You: See? Since you can’t answer my question, I’m right. I win! Therefore God gives us morals” *dusts off hands*

        This is what is called circular logic or a circular argument Bob. It will get you NOWHERE.

        Comment by Ashley — April 7, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

      • “The sad fact of the matter is that in many cases crime pays — does that make it right? If not, why?”
        If the best you can do is “it’s not right because god has written a moral law on our heart and has told us it’s not right”, then I guess that’s the best you can do. Anyone that would postulate or accept an answer like that is, in my humble opinion, a pathetic excuse for a human being.

        Comment by Ashley — April 7, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

    • I keep asking the same question because you still haven’t answered it.

      Extraordinary. You cannot engage. We have spelled it out for you time and again but…you just go into auto-preach mode.
      How many times must I switch the labels around?
      Do you ever stop to wonder why?
      Tildeb gets it. Ashley gets it. You just gloss over it.
      This is the internet. We know the argument already. It’s old. It doesn’t work. Try something better.
      Start with engaging with the people who are taking the time to respond to you.
      READ.

      “It is absolutely true that most human beings have an innate sense of right and wrong even if they are not Baalists — even if they are atheists. It’s called the conscience. The Baalist explanation is that this is the law of Baal written on the human heart. The philosophical problem for the atheist is how to account for this innate sense of morality if Baal doesn’t exist. If we insist that our decisions must be reality based, and that religion is merely faith in something for which there is no evidence, then how do we know that the dictates of our conscience are valid? After all, one of the reasons for the existence of Baal is our conscience — our innate sense that there must be a supreme law-giver in the universe. But if our intuitions about Baal are incorrect, that we are merely being delusional, then what about our intuitions about morality? Do they have any basis in reality? Or is this another example of believing in something for which there is no evidence? What evidence is there for morality?”

      The philosophical problem for the atheist is how to account for this innate sense of morality if Baal doesn’t exist.

      “The philosophical problem for the atheist is how to account for this rain falling from the sky if Thor doesn’t exist. If we insist that our decisions must be reality based, and that religion is merely faith in something for which there is no evidence, then how do we know that the the rain is real? After all, one of the reasons for the existence of Thor is to bring the rain — our innate sense that there must be a supreme rain-giver in the universe. But if our intuitions about Thor are incorrect, that we are merely being delusional, then what about our intuitions about the rain? Do they have any basis in reality? Or is this another example of believing in something for which there is no evidence? What evidence is there for rain?”

      Bob, rain falls from the sky.
      That doesn’t mean it comes from Thor.
      I might not know anything about condensation or water vapour or cold fronts or atmospherics but that doesn’t mean I get to fill in my ignorance with Thor just to avoid blanks in my knowledge.

      If you want to claim that Thor brings the rain then go ahead.
      However, you can’t use the rain as evidence of Thor.
      Even if I have no idea where rain comes from….that doesn’t mean that your Thor therefore brings it by default.

      I can’t explain it any more simply without the use of a blackboard and lots of coloured chalk.

      Morality 1: Good without gods

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 7, 2014 @ 9:35 am | Reply

      • If I may borrow an analogy from American history, the problem with your “switch the labels” routine is this: it is a little bit like saying that if Confederate money is worthless then all money is worthless. I think you can see that it is a non sequitur. The real question is, is there a Creator?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 7, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

      • If I may borrow an analogy from American history, the problem… is that now you are using the false analogy fallacy.

        That’s not going to help.

        …it is a little bit like saying that if Confederate money is worthless….

        Not really. Not even a tiny bit.
        Money exists.
        I can even take two different types of money and compare their respective values.
        People do it all the time.

        You can try to make the analogy stick but good luck with that.

        For example, god A is U.S currency. However, god B is Zimbabwean currency.
        Translation: A is valuable/real. B is valueless/ not real.

        (…awkward silence…)

        Nope. That’s not going to work. You have to demonstrate that your god really is the greenback and that all the others are wooden nickels.

        Instead of making stuff up, how about you actually read what I wrote? Deal with the switch if you can but be honest about it. If there’s some whopping great difference between “blah, blah, blah, [insert your personal home-brand god here]” and “blah, blah, blah, [insert some other fellow’s personal brand-name god here]” then I’m sure we’d all love to hear it.
        It would make a change from you going all tongue-tied and hand-wavey.

        The real question is, is there a Creator?

        If you want to claim that your brand-name god exists and that it’s responsible for whatever then do so.
        Only you have to do better that what you’ve done before.
        So far, your arguments have been trite rubbish.

        Fallacy of ID-False analogy

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 7, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    • “The philosophical problem for the atheist is how to account for this innate sense of morality if God doesn’t exist.”. No it’s not. This is the Burden of Proof Fallacy. You’re the one making the claim that god gives us morals. It is not my responsibility to prove you wrong. You’re the one that has to explain the existence of sociopaths and psychopaths even though we have a god that apparently writes a moral code on our heart. You’re the one that has to explain how you’ve come to know all this information.

      “It is an observable fact that we often feel guilty about our behavior, but it is also an observable fact that we engage in “bad’ behavior nonetheless.” BULLSHIT. Serial killers are notorious for having no empathy, no regret and no remorse for the horrific crimes they commit. What?!??! How can that be? I thought they had a moral law written on their heart?
      Hunh?!!?! What’s going on here? Where are all these sociopaths and psychopaths and serial killers and mafia members coming from if we have god instilled morals? This “supreme lawgiver” of yours must be incredibly inept and incompetent to say the very least. He needs a new quality control manager.

      “…then morality becomes a matter of economics. Money is what we use to buy the things that contribute to our individual well-being…” NONSENSE. People give blood all the time, for free. People donate their time for various charitable endeavors all the time.They receive absolutely no benefit from it other than knowing that they’ve aided their fellow human. Doing good for it’s own sake without any expectation of reward.

      ” And if it is to my economic advantage to lie, cheat and steal, then I will do so.” People all over the world, do this every single day of the week. Organized Crime members MAKE A LIVING doing this – and killing people at the same time. If you think this is a perfectly good “moral” way to live your life, and that without god-instilled morals, you wouldn’t be violating any “moral law” by acting this way, then you must not think very much of yourself or human beings in general. Are saying that if there were no god-instilled morals, you would act this way or it wouldn’t matter if anyone acted that way because there’d be no “moral law” to break? And that since god gave you morals, you don’t act this way? In other words, that you wouldn’t be able to figure out for yourself that it’s not good to, say, kill people and steal their car and that only through god-instilled morals are you prevented from doing that? If it wasn’t for god telling you that that’s bad, you wouldn’t otherwise know it’s bad? If you want to debase and degrade yourself like that, be my guest, but leave me out of it. DO NOT even ATTEMPT to tell me that I need god to “write a moral law on my heart” so that I know that lying, cheating and stealing are wrong. I WILL NOT be insulted like that.

      Comment by Ashley — April 7, 2014 @ 10:49 am | Reply

      • You’re confusing two different things here, Ashley. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not there is an objective moral code that is binding on everyone. On the other hand there is the innate sense of morality, subjective pyschological urge that most normal people have to be kind and compassionate, at least to people they care about. No one doubts the latter; it is the former that is problematic. Is it possible to posit the existence of an objective moral code if there is no supreme law-giver? If not, is the only reason that we do good things because we just happen to feel like it?

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 7, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

      • “On the one hand there is the question of whether or not there is an objective moral code that is binding on everyone.”. You say, yes there is – a “supreme law giver” (god) gives it to us. Then once again, I ask you to explain sociopaths, psychopaths, serial killers, etc. If a god does in fact “give” this “objective moral code that is binding on everyone” (morals), then there must be an explanation as to why there are people who act as if the “supreme law giver” has not given them the “objective moral code that is binding on everyone” (morals). Please explain.
        “Is it possible to posit the existence of an objective moral code if there is no supreme law-giver?” You can re-word your original question ” how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of religion?” in as many different ways as you like, it doesn’t make it any less stupid. It’s still the logical fallacy of the loaded question.
        To copy Cedric “Is it possible to posit the existence of rain if there is no supreme rain-giver?”
        Is there any particular reason why you appear to be absolutely committed to making the same mistakes over and over and over again?
        So far in 20 to 30-odd posts your argument has followed the same circular pattern. You offer no evidence, you don’t even offer a coherent argument.

        You: “God gives us morals”
        Us: “On what basis and with what evidence do you make that assertion?”
        You: “Well if god doesn’t give us morals, where do they come from hunh?!?!?!”
        Us: “That’s a logical fallacy of a loaded question. It’s stupid and it can’t be answered. We’re not required to answer it. You’ve reversed the burden of proof”
        You: See? Since you can’t answer my question, I’m right. I win! Therefore God gives us morals” *dusts off hands*

        This is what is called circular logic or a circular argument Bob. It will get you NOWHERE.

        Comment by Ashley — April 7, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

  17. The burden of proof rests on the person who wrote the original blog post and asserted that religion should be kept out of health care, and then went on to suggest that a Catholic hospital does not have the right to conduct its operations on the basis of its own values. I challenged the assertion by asking a basic question. If religion does not give us a basis for medical ethics, what does? What is the alternative?
    And you have not answered the question, because frankly, I don’t think there is an answer.
    That is not because others have not tried. John Stewart Mill, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Engels, John Dewey, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean Paul Sartre all attempted to come up with solutions to the problem. But Cedric, for one, doesn’t want to be associated with any of them, and doesn’t have an answer of his own.
    I wonder — is it because there isn’t an answer?

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 8, 2014 @ 5:36 am | Reply

    • Tildeb made it very clear why he asserted that religion should be kept out of health care. He has written numerous posts and has made it CRYSTAL CLEAR why religion should play no role whatsoever in health care. You have chosen to ignore those reasons and keep right on asking your “basic” question “if we can’t derive medical ethics from religion, then where do they come from?”, or some slightly different version thereof. Since we can’t answer that stupid question, you have somehow fooled yourself into thinking that you’ve made some kind of point or that you’ve won the argument. You haven’t. Tildeb has given numerous reasons why we shouldn’t derive medical ethics from religion. I have yet to see ONE reason from you why we should. All we keep getting is that stupid question over and over and over and over. You just did it again in this last post. This is the way that stupid people argue Bob. You still haven’t answered any of the following questions from Cedric:
      1) Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that you are right — that Thor has no more substance or validity than tooth fairies. How do we get rain now? If you cannot provide a satisfactory (to me) answer to this, then that proves that Thor is responsible for rain.
      2) But the question here is, how can society justify its moral conclusions in the absence of magic? If you cannot provide a satisfactory (to me) answer to this, then that proves that we need magic to justify our moral conclusions.
      3) How you can use the scientific method to arrive at a value judgment, especially in the absence of Mega Magical Bigfoot? If you cannot provide a satisfactory (to me) answer to this then I will have proved that you cannot arrive at a value judgment in the absence of Mega Magical Bigfoot.
      And you have not answered the questions, because frankly, I don’t think there are answers. That is not because others have not tried. Many people have attempted to come up with solutions to the problem. But you, for one, don’t want to be associated with any of them, and don’t have an answer of your own.
      I wonder — is it because there isn’t an answer?

      Comment by Ashley — April 8, 2014 @ 8:26 am | Reply

      • Let me answer this by analogy: Bob, define a square circle. You’ll find the problem with the answer I seek (the right answer I will accept is 42) is contained with the question itself. Linking squares and circles by assumption as if related is the problem; linking medical ethics with religious belief in a divine law giver by assumption is the problem.

        Now, before you immediately ignore this point, revisit the repeated attempts to get you to even recognize the problem you keep presenting as if the trouble lies elsewhere. It doesn’t. It lies with you and your question. It’s a really poor question.

        The problem – as I’ve already pointed out – is elevating religious doctrine that similarly assumes this link to elevate itself to determine best medical practices. This is crazy.

        The ethics of best medical practices is established by medical boards like the AMA who consider their professional obligations and patient welfare with laws and create a standards of care based on these professional considerations. A lot goes into streamlining theses considerations into a code of conduct that works to promote best practices between medical practitioners who represent the profession and patients seeking medical treatment (and medical advice) from it. To make all this subservient to the religious doctrine of a celibate unmarried man who wears a dress (who reports to groups of other carbon-copy men) to determine its ethical standards according to metaphysical and philosophical alignment with a particular religious belief set involving supernatural agencies interactive in the world produces a medical system that is a branch of theology… the same branch that produces people who think spraying holy water and talking in Latin phrases will scare demons out of people they supposedly possess… a way of ‘treating’ people right out of the Dark Ages. Respecting those who wish to impose such ignorant assumptions and call it ‘medicine’ on people seeking medical treatment leads not just to elevating ignorance to be equivalent to knowledge but makes modern medical knowledge subservient to Iron Age superstitious belief. Religious belief has demonstrated no access to medical knowledge or medical expertise whatsoever. Yet this doesn’t even slow down its claim to ethical authority in medical matters, which is why it tries to slip under the medical tent unnoticed, join the conversation about best practices, and then take charge of the proceedings by declaring its right to pronounce by fiat what is and is not ethical according to an invisible agency of Ooigity Boogity.

        Welcome to the Crazytown hospital.

        Comment by tildeb — April 8, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

    • John Stewart Mill, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Engels, John Dewey, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean Paul Sartre…

      Nobody here even mentioned them.

      But Cedric, for one, doesn’t want to be associated with any of them,…

      Actually, it’s more like you desperately want to to associate them with me. Nothing to do with me. It’s all from you. The only time when any of those names get mentioned is when you bring them up. I never do.
      Yet, strangely, you persist.
      (shrug)

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 8, 2014 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  18. If we want to add a couple of women to the list we could mention Ayn Rand and Simone De Beauvoir.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 8, 2014 @ 6:39 am | Reply

    • No “we” don’t want to. There is no “we”. It’s all from you. Nobody round here is talking about whoever and Simone dewhatshername. You are being very silly.

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 8, 2014 @ 9:23 am | Reply

  19. “I challenged the assertion by asking a basic question. If Thor does not give us a basis for rain, what does? What is the alternative?
    And you have not answered the question, because frankly, I don’t think there is an answer.
    That is not because others have not tried. Olson, Haggar, Beouwulf, Conan, Erik the Red, and Helgar all attempted to come up with solutions to where the rain comes from. But Cedric, for one, doesn’t want to be associated with any of them, and doesn’t have an answer of his own.
    I wonder — is it because there isn’t an answer to where the rain comes from?”

    CHRISTIAN CREATARD: Doesn’t Understand The Burden of Pro

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 8, 2014 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  20. Tildeb,
    Let’s consider the example of legalized abortion. For centuries abortion was legal during the early stages of pregnancy. In the meantime theologians debated when a human foetus acquires a soul. A popular theory was that the foetus becomes a human being at the point of “quickening,” when the mother could feel the baby moving in her womb.
    Fast forward to the 19th century. Medical science has advanced and scientists now realize that there is no magical moment in the middle of the pregnancy when the foetus suddenly becomes human. The embryo undergoes a continuous process of development from the moment of fertilization until delivery. When this become understood, American states began amending their laws to outlaw abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Obstetricians realized that proper medical care meant that measures should be taken throughout the entire pregnancy to ensure, if at all possible, the eventual delivery of a healthy baby. All of this was based on SCIENCE, mind you, not religion(The theologians were still debating the issue of when life begins.) Doctors understood that their primary task was to preserve the health and life of the patient, which in the case of a pregnancy meant both the mother and the baby.
    Why, then, have we now legalized abortion? What scientific fact has come to light to change our opinion of the matter? Isn’t it something other than hard science? Isn’t there a change of values that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with science? And if it is not Christianity, then what is it? And what are the implications for society in general?
    This is hardly a “stupid question.” It goes right to the heart of the crisis facing Western culture today. We all have a right to know where you propose to lead us when you tell us that religion needs to stay out of healthcare, and so far you haven’t been willing to tell us.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 8, 2014 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

    • Why, then, have we now legalized abortion? What scientific fact has come to light to change our opinion of the matter? Isn’t it something other than hard science? Isn’t there a change of values that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with science? And if it is not magic, then what is it? And what are the implications for society in general?
      This is hardly a “stupid question.” It goes right to the heart of the crisis facing Western culture today. We all have a right to know where you propose to lead us when you tell us that magic needs to stay out of healthcare, and so far you haven’t been willing to tell us.

      Comment by Ashley — April 8, 2014 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

      • Ashley (and Cedric),
        Let me point out that the fact that Tildeb cannot explain how you can derive an ethical principle from science does not by itself prove the existence of God. Unless the existence of God can be demonstrated by other means, then we must all face the fact, you and I both, that we live in an impersonal, irrational and amoral universe and accept it. But we must then all understand that both science and morality are dead — If the universe was not created by an intelligent Being, then it is essentially irrational. And if it is irrational, it is impossible to make any generalizations about it, physical or moral, that have any validity. The universe only appears to be governed by rational principles, but that is only an illusion. Rationality is only something that the human mind imposes on an unordered reality, If religion is a joke, science is a joke, and so are morality and human “rights.” If we cannot demonstrate the existence God, then let’s face the facts squarely and stop pretending that we can find some kind of meaning, moral, scientific or otherwise in reality.

        Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 8, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

      • Let me point out that the fact that Tildeb cannot explain how you can derive an ethical principle from science does not by itself prove the existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Unless the existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster can be demonstrated by other means, then we must all face the fact, you and I both, that we live in an impersonal, irrational and amoral universe and accept it. But we must then all understand that both science and morality are dead — If the universe was not created by an intelligent Being, then it is essentially irrational. And if it is irrational, it is impossible to make any generalizations about it, physical or moral, that have any validity. The universe only appears to be governed by rational principles, but that is only an illusion. Rationality is only something that the human mind imposes on an unordered reality. If magic is a joke, science is a joke, and so are morality and human “rights.” If we cannot demonstrate the existence The Flying Spaghetti Monster then let’s face the facts squarely and stop pretending that we can find some kind of meaning, moral, scientific or otherwise in reality.

        Comment by Ashley — April 8, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

  21. Oh Bob, you just don’t get the whole label switching thing. After dozens of examples, it doesn’t register with you.
    How about you engage for a change?
    Actually read and understand and deal?
    The rest of us don’t have a problem with it. We can grasp it. Wearing self-imposed blinkers doesn’t help.

    “Let me point out that the fact that Tildeb cannot explain how you can derive an ethical principle from science does not by itself prove the existence of vampires.”

    This would have been a good statement…if you’d stopped there. If you really meant it. But you don’t.
    All you’ve done is shorn your statement from your implicit assumption that you can’t defend.
    You keep swinging back to it, no matter how many times you try to rephrase things.

    “Unless the existence of vampires can be demonstrated by other means, then we must all face the fact, you and I both, that we live in an impersonal, irrational and amoral universe and accept it.”

    And there’s the clanger. Straight away, you’ve gone back to your assertion.

    “But we must then all understand that both thunder and rain are dead — If they were not created by Thor, then it is essentially irrational.”

    (…facepalm…)

    And yet, Bob, and yet…..it rains.
    What you are doing is very silly.

    When you figure out why you mention your brand-name god as opposed to some other brand name god, then you will realize how silly you appear to the rest of us.
    This whole time you can’t engage with the label switching. You have no answer for it.
    Nothing.
    Let me tell you a little secret. It’s not just you. No other internet auto-preacher has an answer either. It’s simple, effective and is universally useful for and god or religion out there. It doesn’t pick on Christians. It doesn’t pick on Muslims. It doesn’t pick on Wotanists. It leaves them all speechless.

    You can place self-imposed blinkers on and ignore the rebuttals to the classic fallacious arguments that you and others routinely trot out over and over and over again.
    Only the arguments are permanently preserved. They documented. They’re searchable. Others can learn from them and see the flaws.
    And they do.
    Once the cat is out of the bag about shifting the burden of proof and argument from incredulity and false dichotomy etc, then it’s easy for people to see through the smoke and mirrors.
    You are left with a losing argument that only brings in steadily diminishing returns.

    Richard Dawkins cruelly answers audience question

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 9, 2014 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  22. I trhink that the argument is silly and insipid because it misses the whole point of Intelligent Design — the evidence points to a Creator.
    In some cases other religions do have real experiences and Dawkins was wrong to dismiss all of them out of hand. But the experience of Christ is different from the experience of a demon. “By their fruits you shall know them.” The true and living God does not inspire one to hijack an airliner and crash it into an office building.

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 9, 2014 @ 6:02 am | Reply

    • Bob, I just answered a knock on my door from two Jehovah Witnesses who, like you, are convinced that their religious experiences are ‘real’. I get the same argument from people of other faiths, that their religious experiences are also ‘real’. When any reasonable person asks HOW are we to tell which of these incompatible experiences are ‘real’, we are talking about a method used… by you, by them, by me. And we find very real differences. You use a method that empowers revelation, scriptural authority, person experience, and faith. These are methods known to be very untrustworthy in matters we can verify by granting empowerment to reality to arbitrate. The examples are plentiful and I won;t go into them here… suffice to say there is no methodological difference between the same justifications used by those suffering from hallucination/delusion and each of these tools you use to tell us what is ‘real’. That’s a problem.

      Yet it is exactly this same empowerment of the same tools of religious belief – revelation, scriptural authority, personal experience, and faith – used by hospital staff in Ireland under the policy guide of the Catholic hospital to allow Savita Halappanavar to die rather than provide what is known to be the proper medical procedure. Your method is deeply and irreparably faulty to produce justifications that have been arbitrated by reality to work. There is no qualitative difference between the methods you use to justify your religious beliefs and the same methods to justify the killing of kill real people by medical neglect and call it ‘ethical’. You own this problem. You have to show why your empowerment of your methods – why the line of reasoning you continue to use – deserve the respect of anyone else when others keep showing you why they don’t. Your faith-based belief is insufficient. You just don’t want to accept this fact but continue to argue that it is deserving of imposition on everyone else by nefarious means… like hospital policies based on theology rather than best medical practices. That underhandedness is a pretty good indication that your position cannot stand on merit.

      Comment by tildeb — April 9, 2014 @ 11:24 am | Reply

    • I think that the argument is silly and insipid because it misses the whole point of Intelligent Design — the evidence points to a Creator.

      If it’s so “silly and insipid” then why can’t you engage with it successfully? Heck, why can’t you engage with it at all?
      You just block your ears and run away.
      All internet auto-preachers do.
      I’ve seen it happen literally dozens of times myself and there are plenty of other example out there too. A quick google will prove me right.
      Feel free to steal the best answer you can find and copy it.
      Nobody fared any better than you did.

      Remember those commenters on your own blog from a few days back? They rang the bell and ran away. Scampered off like mice.

      Remember your false analogy of the Confederate money? You abandoned it like a waif on the doorstep the minute I challenged it. “Poof!”

      ….the evidence points to a Creator.

      You present no evidence. All you have done is claim credit on behalf of Thor for the rain. When we switch the labels around from Thor to Loki, you do the shifting the burden of proof/false dichotomy thingy which just so happens to leave your home-brand invisible friend the default winner. No actual evidence. Just rhetorical sleight of hand.

      In some cases other religions do have real experiences and Dawkins was wrong to dismiss all of them out of hand.

      “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens.

      But the experience of a Mi-go is different from the experience of a shoggoth. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” The sleeping and undying Cthulhu does not inspire one to hijack an airliner and crash it into an office building. That would be more likely Tulzscha.

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 9, 2014 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  23. Yeah, I think this is about where I get off the merry-go-round. Your entire argument and I dare say your entire world view is based on nothing more than the argument from personal incredulity. You just can’t understand how anything could possibly make any sense without a creator or a supreme lawgiver. And of course ONLY the one that you happen to believe in is the one that makes sense and can explain anything which is why you completely ignore every argument we throw back at you with the names changed out (God for The Flying Spaghetti Monster for example). No matter what anyone says to you, it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t fit in with your pre-conceived idea of your chosen creator, so the arguments go in one ear and out the other with no processing whatsoever. You just keep right on standing on your soap box and preaching and making ridiculously unfounded assertions and thinking you’ve got the mystery of the entire universe all figured out. Ignorance truly is bliss I guess. Enjoy living your life in a warm bath of semi-consciousness.

    Comment by Ashley — April 9, 2014 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  24. it misses the whole point of Intelligent Design

    Intelligent Design? Hey, I can’t speak for tildeb, but I’m sure he’d be delighted to have you expound on ID. If you ask him nicely, I’d be willing to bet he’d even offer you a guest post if only for the sheer entertainment value.
    After all, people are more likely to read it here than on your own blog. (That’s not a dig at you. Just an observation. No offence intended.)
    Only, I doubt your chances of doing anything more than reciting a few stale assertions with a flabby analogy or two.
    There’s an old joke about ID.

    Q: How do you get a creationist talking about the “flaws” in the Theory of Evolution?
    A: Ask them about the theory of ID.

    Fallacy of ID and creationism-False Dichotomy [Reloaded]

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 9, 2014 @ 12:10 pm | Reply

    • Arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon flies in, knocks all the pieces over, shits all over the board and then flies back to its flock to claim victory.

      Comment by Ashley — April 9, 2014 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  25. Bob always gets two really important things wrong.

    1) He has no idea what an atheist is. None. Out of all the conversations I have had with him, he’s never been successfully able to define atheism.

    2) There is this perpetual desire to shift the burden of proof. Wriggling, evading, flipping and flopping without any shame whatsoever all in a vain effort to shift the burden of proof.

    After much searching, I finally found the video that I was looking for.
    This is the video that captures Bob so well that it’s scary.
    Enjoy.

    The Idiot Theist – The Atheist Experience 776

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 12, 2014 @ 7:47 am | Reply

    • Bob seems to have only two grooves in his brain he calls ‘atheism’ and The Truth. Everything must be accorded the right label before being filed in one of these two systems. What Bob seems incapable of doing is making another groove even when he is offered compelling reasons to do so.

      Comment by tildeb — April 13, 2014 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  26. I take it you two have been talking to him for quite a while…unfortunately to no avail. This is not an unusual for me either. I’ve had similar experiences with other crackpots on other websites and you just have to come to the realization that there is no conversing with people like that. Not meaningful conversation anyways. This video is a prime example of that. 1/2 an hour of going around in circles to try and explain a simple concept and in the end, it all comes to naught. “Yeah, but…”. There’s ALWAYS an exception when it comes to their god, or something us strident atheists aren’t considering or are missing. I didn’t think it could get any easier than Matt’s guilty/not guilty analogy in a courtroom scenario but nope. In one ear, out the other…..Sigh.

    Comment by Ashley — April 13, 2014 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  27. When I talk to people like Bob, I’m always aware of the silent lurkers. They’re the ones I’m trying to reach. I want them to see how bad the arguments from people like Bob really are by letting them peek behind the curtain and see that it’s all just fluff and nonsense.
    For a religion to succeed, it must recruit the same or more members than the ones that die off from attrition. Isolate the religious peddlers and the unkind years will do the rest.
    Every time you argue with an internet auto-preacher and ,with extreme fairness, turn a harsh spotlight on their methodology and flawed reasoning-you win.

    Others can identify the logical fallacies that the preacher uses and learn from them. They can watch your videos and access your resources. They can follow the ritual dance of the preacher and realize that there is never anything new on offer.
    Those people are then inocculated. The magic has gone. That’s one less person that won’t be putting money in the collection plate.
    We are playing the demographics game and the internet is on our side. It’s the greatest tool for education ever created.

    The Internet: Where religions come to die

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 14, 2014 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  28. Thanks for reminding me Cedric why I do this. I’ve been letting my doubtful pessimistic side get the better of me but you are absolutely correct. Yes, there will be some people who just will not and/or cannot listen to reason (Bob for example). But there are people who will hopefully listen to reason and we can at the very least plant the seeds of doubt and then let curiosity and time do the rest. I guess we can be encouraged by the growing number of people who are at least willing to call themselves non-religious.

    Comment by Ashley — April 14, 2014 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  29. Well, am I ever flattered by the compliments!

    Comment by Tribulation Saint — April 14, 2014 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

    • Well, am I ever flattered by the compliments!

      The Passive Aggression of the Christ

      Comment by Cedric Katesby — April 15, 2014 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  30. Here’s the blog post I promised Cedric as a followup to our discussion: http://tribulationsaint.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/psychotherapy-and-morality/
    I know he can’t wait to read it!

    Comment by Bob Wheeler — May 6, 2014 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

    • Well I don’t know about you guys (Cedric and tildeb), but I’m convinced. Science can’t explain or be used to derive morals, therefore goddidit is the default correct answer. Can’t see any flaws in that line of thinking can you?

      Comment by Ashley — May 6, 2014 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  31. An example of the worst of religious stupidity, Why do not the over watching authorities make sure that decisions are made on medical grounds rather than anything else. I live in the UK and here as you might know we have a national health service but all medical including private comes under oversite. Hospitals have multi faith chaplains in them for those of faith or none who want that aid to there recovery. As a patient I have been prayed with and also prayed for other patients, but only having been given permission. I would suggest that this hospital has got its reason for being there wrong. Jesus healed the sick but did not charge or force them to follow, in fact He was just sorrowful when only one of ten lepers came to say thank you. He did not reject the others or stop there healing. This hospital is not being run on any Christian idea I know of.

    Comment by Chris Brann — June 9, 2014 @ 3:01 am | Reply

    • This hospital is not being run on any Christian idea I know of.” Abortion goes against the doctrine of the Catholic Church. So says Mother Theresa, so says the Pope.
      The No True Scotsman fallacy. Those guys aren’t REAL Christians. Been there, heard that all before. Try something new.

      Comment by Ashley — June 10, 2014 @ 1:19 pm | Reply


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