Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is suffering worse than death? Part One.








In my quest to understand modern liberalism, I have discovered that for the secular left, the worst thing in life is suffering or potential suffering. Not sin, not evil, not even death. It is suffering that must be avoided at all costs. 
Here’s what I have seen recently that backs up my theory:

1) Peter Singer, the esteemed bioethicist at Princeton (whom I blogged about 
here), believes that if bearing and raising a disabled child will cause his parents to suffer, the child should be put to death, even long after birth. As he and his many supporters see it, this killing is a way to end the suffering and potential suffering of both the child and the parents:
When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the haemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him.
2) We have heard from liberal bloggers again and again (commenting on this blog and their own) that it is often better for an unborn child to die by abortion than to live, due to the potential for suffering. For example, Mai said: 
Religious Right policies on abortion sound good in theory, but are a disaster when applied to real life. Take for example children born to parent(s) (often the father is absent) who are poor or unwilling to care for a child, let alone be healthy enough to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Presumably, the "disaster" is that the child or the mother might suffer


And Sophie recently stated: 
I believe that abortion is the right choice in some situations, such as certain cases of teen pregnancy. Don't you agree it is better for both mother and embryo to lose the fetus and continue living as a teenager than it is to be possibly disowned, homeless, and susceptible to disease? 
The very possibility of suffering, of being disowned, homeless and susceptible to disease (a possibility in any life, mine and yours included) is enough to justify an abortion. 


3) Then there are the accusations against Mother Teresa. Until I did a little research, I had no idea that hating on Mother T. was a cottage industry among those on the secular left! The attacks echo a remark I saw this week, written by a proud abortion supporter:
    I would most definitely have said [f*** you] to Mother Theresa. She was a fanatic. A marketing tool for the church, and simply a fraud. She never opposed poverty, but thought the suffering of the poor was something noble, a god-given blessing that humanity should be thankful for. She never treated the suffering patients she had in Calcutta with the millions she made, she kept them there suffering, reading fairy tales, and receiving non-professional medical assistance to keep them in their state. 
    (Emphasis mine, and yes, this person went on and on some more, but I think you get the gist....)
    4) Finally, many of us saw the shocking video a couple of days ago of a British advice columnist being interviewed for a TV segment called, “Can abortion be a kindness?” Be sure to watch the clip (your jaw will drop), but here’s an excerpt:  
    Miss Ironside said: ‘If a baby’s going to be born severely disabled or totally unwanted, surely an abortion is the act of a loving mother.’
    She added: ‘If I were the mother of a suffering child – I mean a deeply suffering child – I would be the first to want to put a pillow over its face… If it was a child I really loved, who was in agony, I think any good mother would.’
    I was consoled to see that the two other ladies on the set were as appalled as I was. However, Miss Ironside seemed thoroughly confused to learn that most good mothers would not smother their own suffering children.

    (By the way, does anyone else see a contradiction in her assertion that a "totally unwanted" baby could have a "loving mother"? How does that work, exactly? It's sort of like if I said to my husband, "You are totally unwanted! Aren't I a loving wife?" But I digress...)

    These are just a few recent examples I found with little effort. If you are skeptical that liberals really feel this way, keep your eyes and ears open. Read what those on the secular left are saying every day. Watch their news shows, read their articles and blogs. Pay special attention when they start talking about "quality of life." You will find the same theme again and again: Evil isn't the biggest evil, suffering is. Death isn't the biggest evil, suffering is. Suffering is the one thing we must not tolerate, even if it means we (or others) must die (or be killed) to avoid it.

    Liberals, if I am misrepresenting you, please show me where I am wrong. You know you will be uncensored here.
    And, stay tuned, because soon I will present a very different view of human suffering -- the Christian view.



    116 comments:

    1. Now seriously Leila this is IT. This is the most genius and clear teaching post in the world! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY right. And, redemptive suffering, there is NO understanding about this at all in the left world view. It is also a form of control. That humanity and humans HAVE the capacity to end all suffering if only they make the right choices. It is also a fear and trembling of DEATH because after this body grows old, gets sick (in other words, all LIFE will experience some suffering) then...there is NOTHING but DEATH. Since suffering has no meaning and DEATH is what awaits humanity then the avoidance of suffering and living the "good life" and having the most amount of happiness and pleasure is the ultimate end and purpose and goal of life. I can't wait to see the comments on this one. You nailed it.

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    2. This is a great post, and a subject I have struggled a lot with while attempting to change my worldview. It is hard to make a shift from the "suffering" goggles! But once it's done, the view is great. :-)

      This is tangentially related- http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/02/100802fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all It's an article on letting go, and how weird our society gets about death and the dying process.

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    3. Ohhhh this is gonna get good! ;) I got all fired up on Sophies comment becuase I suffered in my younger years. Too bad I lead a great life now! ;) Glad my teenage mother choose life and didn't smother me with a pillow.

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    4. Sew, I'm glad my mother didn't come and smother my 28-yr old face last year when I went through my greatest suffering!!
      Wonderful post, Leila. A very, VERY intelligent friend of mine from college once wrote an angry status update on FB about abortion. Basically, this is what it said: "Every year, hundreds of innocent people are killed on death row. A total miscarriage of justice. You know what's NOT killing hundreds of people? SAFE and LEGAL abortions! I wish the anti-choice camp would devote more of their time to the real issues."

      I was thisclose to pointing out the obvious irony in her status... but decided against it. I find that liberals are SO FOCUSED on the WOMAN, her potential for suffering, and her quality of life, that they are completely deaf to hearing that there are actually TWO lives involved in an abortion. Not to mention, they only want to discuss her potential suffering of raising a child or giving it for adoption - NOT any potential suffering she may experience for years and years after making the decision to stop the life growing inside of her.

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    5. Oh my goodness! These things made me so sick. At first I thought I could talk about one in particular, but nope, they are all pretty horrible. The vile things about Mother Theresa... I cannot even imagine a more sweet woman undeserving of such hatred, save the Blessed Mother. And then the comments on why it is better to kill a child... I wonder if the people that say such things were incapacitated and couldnt speak for themselves, if they'd prefer we just kill them!

      Infant Jesus in the womb, pray that all people may come to love in your name and that discrimination of the preborn based on their age or challenges may end. Amen.

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    6. I am struck by "the total amount of happiness" quote from Singer. I once worked with a woman who had been on the pill for who knows how long. She decided she wanted to have a child, came off the pill, got pregnant 3 months later and at one of her u/s there was a chance that her little girl had downs. She was going to abort that baby just on the CHANCE of it suffering (and her too). Fortunately for her daughter downs was ruled out. You are right Leila- great post.

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    7. Everything you have in red makes me see red! Actually, it makes me teary. Excellent post Leila. Very very clear and concise.

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    8. Sometimes it's just more than I can take....

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    9. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like Singer is using a lot of words that describe feelings. For instance, " happy" has to do with how you feel. Is he essentially saying being "happy" is the same as having a "good" life? I know a lot of people who have had great difficulties, but have a "good" life or who are unhappy about something, but content in other areas.

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    10. Leila, thank you SO much for posting this! I can't wait to read part 2!

      I just feel so sad for these people. I mean, I'm also infuriated, but mostly sad. We need to pray, pray, pray!

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    11. Thanks for this, Leila. I love Monica's term "suffering goggles".

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    12. If it weren't for suffering, I would be a spoiled brat that didn't look outside myself to the needs of others. Period. I constantly think about how I can help our children develop these values when we have more than I had growing up. My mom was right, it is easier to say no to your children when you simply don't have it. And have you ever met a child with an illness? Wise and caring beyond their years. We could all learn something by suffering more. Thank you for posting this, Leila. It has inspired me to write a different, yet relatied post, about the power of knowledge in making decisions.

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    13. When Dr. George Tiller was killed, I nearly became physically ill due to a message board thread I read praising him for helping so many women "avoid suffering." It was just atrocious.

      Looking forward to part II!

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    14. This is a great post, Leila...I can't wait to use this idea when talking with people about difficult issues.

      I am also really interested in how those with a different worldview will respond.

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    15. What the secular humanists will not accept is that they CANNOT eliminate suffering.
      "Religion is the root of all suffering, if people stopped being religious everything will be better"
      that doesn't hold water, the vast majority of charities set up to ease suffering? backed by the worlds large religions.
      How many atheist charities do you know of?

      "Money is the root of all suffering, if everyone has money we will end suffering"

      we've seen how that idea worked out in Communist countries

      "If only the US was like Europe, we'd all be so much better off."
      Well, folks this isn't Europe. Our culture, population size and resources are very different. Apples to oranges. And if you think that Europe is a panacea of socialism you need to look past the pretty picture the media and liberals paint and see the reality that there are still poor people, very poor.

      "If we abort babies that are unwanted or imperfect, we'll all be much happier."

      Being born healthy or into a two parent family is no guarantee of happiness or lack of suffering. Shall we kill anyone who has a traumatic brain injury? What about cancer? Imagine the money we'd save if everyone diagnosed with Stage III and IV cancer was put down like a dog instead of all the treatments, surgery and palliative care. How about a schizophrenic? They could have a child before they ever show symptoms. In that case we should probably murder both parent AND child.

      This life is a vale of tears. Period. When people accept that, learn that the only way of dealing with it is to pray and step up and help their brothers and sisters in Christ carry their crosses instead of finding a way to run away from them? Then, and only then, will the people of this world be truly "happy".

      Imagine what this world would be like if *everyone* practiced the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy.

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    16. Fantastic post, Leila! I'm so glad you wrote it! My jaw DROPPED when I saw that video a few days ago. How completely and utterly disgusting.

      It brings us back to WHEN is a baby a human? At Catholic definition of conception? (meaning the meeting of egg and sperm?) AT the government's definition of conception? (Implantation?) At 2nd trimester? Birth? Later?

      Some cultures don't consider a newborn to be human until 3 months. In Bali they have a ceremony welcoming the baby as part of the human race at 105 days. So would it be legitimate to kill the baby during those 104 days?

      Singer also said this:
      "we saw that the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings. This conclusion is not limited to infants who, because of irreversible intellectual disabilities, will never be rational, self-conscious beings."

      http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1993----.htm

      So don't worry! It doesn't matter if it's human or not! Just whether it's self-conscious, which I believe is around the age of 2.

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    17. Anonymous, BINGO! Utopia cannot and will not ever exist on this earth. Secular humanists keep talking and living as if that's possible, and they even believe that humans are "evolving" into a more moral species (I see no evidence of that!). What they don't understand is that human nature (and our tendency toward sin) does not change. And suffering will always be with us. Your last two paragraphs, about how to deal with human suffering, are dead on.

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    19. Paul, before I hop off to host yet another kids' birthday party, I will just throw out this thought:

      I wish more liberals were like you! However, I think you are a thoughtful exception.

      If liberals were more about "freedom" and "liberty" than about forcing everyone to be "happy" then they would be for smaller gov't and less regulation. However, as former Communist David Horowitz has said, "Liberals are only liberal when it comes to sex and drugs." Everything else, they want to regulate and control (even down to what kind of car we drive and what kind of lightbulbs we use). This is modern liberalism, even if you or others are the exception to that.

      There are always exceptions, but I don't mind generalizing. See this post for more on that:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/generalizing-is-not-bad-thing.html

      As for #4 being just one wacky statement... yes, for now. Of course not all or even most liberals would advocate the smothering of suffering children. The point is, that is where modern liberal philosophy is taking us. It is shocking to hear someone speak it, but it's a logical outgrowth of the first three examples I cited.

      Meanwhile, I will hope that more liberals will come around to your point of view (freedom!), but it seems the momentum is in the other direction.

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    20. Hi Paul,

      I appreciate your comment on this post-you're easy to understand and well spoken. Thanks!

      Your last line is very hard for me to understand though. "I, for one, value freedom. If someone wants to suffer through life, let him. If he'd rather die than suffer, let him do that. But the central rule is liberty."

      You must admit that many people you're bestowing this freedom on are not givin the CHOICE between suffering and death. The decision is made for them. Whether it's a baby in the womb (the 23 week old baby in my womb is alive and kicking HARD as I type this) or a toddler with a severe disability-the choice is made for them when someone chooses abortion or smothering with a pillow.

      I agree that freedom is a very, very good thing. And I believe that every person should have the FREEDOM to live a life (even a life of suffering) if they wish. I don't mean to be rude, but I really cannot understand how you come to your conclusions while placing such value in individual freedom.

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    21. Excellent post! My teenage daughter is enjoying your blog as well when I share with her. +JMJ+

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    22. Since I'm scenario #2, I feel I must comment. After some consideration, I have decided I cannot debate abortion or birth control with a group of people who consider male masturbation essentially the murder of an unborn child. I know you did not mention that in this post, but having read other posts/comments by you and your group, I am aware of this opinion of yours.

      There is no possible way for us to find a common ground here. Our assumptions are just too different.

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    23. Mai - wha...? Can you point to a specific post where Leila has made such a bizarre claim, or to any Catholic teaching of same?

      Catholics believe that masturbation is a sin, yes, but not because it is murder of an unborn child. It is not. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."

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    24. Great post, Leila! When I made the comment that provoked the horrible tirade against Mother Teresa, I honestly felt very confident that my point would be well taken. I honestly had NO IDEA that people felt that way about her. Horrible!

      Mai, Catholics do not equate male masturbation with abortion. I remember seeing that misconception in the IVF debate, and I'm not sure where this idea came from.

      Yes, we believe that male masturbation is wrong because we believe that all sexual acts need to be fully self giving to one's spouse, and obviously masturbation occurs only for self pleasure.

      As for dying sperm equaling abortion... I'm sure you and I can both agree that's just ridiculous.

      Essentially, each and every time sperm are ejaculated, Catholics believe that they need to have the possibility of encountering an egg. If a woman is in a period of natural infertility before or after ovulation, and there is no egg for the sperm to meet, then that is fine, but the natural order still remained intact.

      Also, naturally, since men emit millions with every sexual act, the majority of these sperm will die. Is this a tragedy? Absolutely not! Sperm are obviously not individual human lives. They only have half the chromosomes! So obviously no rational person would consider this even remotely on the same level as an abortion, and nor would we crazy Catholics. ;)

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    25. Hi, Megan and JoAnna - I love you both, really I do. I'm sorry I don't know the catechism, I haven't read up. I'll try to do so for the next debate.

      I'll restate: I just can't debate abortion or birth control with someone who thinks that each and every time sperm are ejaculated, they need to have the possibility of encountering an egg.

      Yes, that is not the same as abortion, but still, our assumptions on procreation are just way too different.

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    26. Mai-I'm seeing that your view of procreation are for self fulfillment instead of self giving....

      And don't worry I don't have a memorial service every time my husband and I do not conceive over his lost sperm! I would need some strong medications for that.... ;)

      Your comment on male masturbation being essentially the same as abortion is futile...It doesn't hold up in this crowd and I think we are all clear on that. So we are good. You can discuss your views with us. ;)

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    27. Since we all agree that male masturbation is not the same as abortion or murder, then we should be able to move forward. Mai, I would love to hear your reaction to what I actually wrote here.

      And remember, I never thought we were looking for "common ground." I only want clarity on what both sides believe. Then, people can make their own decision on which side they thing is reasonable. But if we can't be clear on what we believe (with or without "common ground") then how can we discern?

      If I have misunderstood or misstated what the liberal mindset is regarding suffering, let me know so we can get clarity. We don't have to agree.

      Thanks!

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    28. PS: As for why all sexual sin is serious sin (though masturbation is not the same as abortion).... I actually have a post in the queue which discusses that very question. Thanks for patience!

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    29. This is disturbing on so many levels, but it touches upon what happens when suffering is to be avoided at every step of the way (infertility, surrogacy, "defective" children, abortion, etc.

      http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Couple+urged+surrogate+abort+fetus+defect/3628756/story.html

      The last line is incredibly powerful.

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    30. Paul, I'm handing the torch to you to defend liberalism on this blog. I'm quite frankly, tired of endlessly debating this issue-it seems to me people around here are determined to think negatively of liberals and liberal policies. I'm not even sure anymore why we're "asked" to respond to these punitive judgments when the point is to prove all liberal thought illogical.

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    31. Miss Gwen, I am disappointed in you. You have every opportunity to tell me where I have gone wrong if I have misrepresented your views on suffering. In fact, you and Mai have not done so. You have "passed" on an clarification.

      I am glad that Paul is in the mix, because he is willing to straighten me out if he thinks I have my facts wrong. Remember, he identifies as "pro-life" by the way since he opposes abortion throughout most of pregnancy. He is not exactly who you want carrying the pro-abortion torch, right? (I use the term "pro-abortion" for you, because you agreed that you prefer that to "pro-choice.")

      I guess I just need to ask you: Am I wrong in what I wrote or how I represented liberal thought? If so, straighten me out! Let the people decide who has the better argument.

      If the time has come for you to leave, can you find us some liberals who are willing to stay and state their case when challenged? If laying out liberal ideas with liberals' own words is a problem for you, then how should I go about it?

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    32. Miss G,
      It sounds like you don't want to post here anymore. That is a shame. From what I have gathered you have some good insights and help us understand the liberal mindset. I don't think Leila is trying to judge every liberal, more making a point that the eventual conclusions of many popular liberal beliefs have dangerous, often immoral, conclusions.
      I'm curious to know if you agree with Paul that FREEDOM is the main goal of liberal views? If so, what would you define freedom as and what would your definition of freedom lead society to?

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    33. Miss G, please stay! We love you!

      I much prefer engaging in conversation/debate with someone who can actually do it (i.e. YOU) than with someone who claims they can't talk about oranges because yesterday I ate an apple ;)

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    34. Miss G, don't leave! I can help you get you get more energy!!!

      I must say I have kept my emotions in tack Miss G. Come back!!!

      But where are they punitive judgements because they seem to be directly from the horses mouth.

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    35. Leila,

      Great post! When I first began hearing about Singer and some of his positions, I was shocked. But, it starts to make sense when you take the abortive mentality to its logical conclusion.

      If I may throw a grenade of a question in the discussion, would it be a stretch to extend that line of thinking of "mercy killing" from babies to those who live according to "irrational" religious beliefs (like orthodox Christians, according to the world's viewpoint) and refuse to allow themselves to be "re-educated." If it has been allowed in Western societies in our own time (1920's and 30's Mexico, Nazi Germany to name a couple), would it not be possible in our own time?

      I guess what I'm asking is, where does it stop? How far could it possibly go?

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    36. One Man, I think that's a good question. One worth pondering.

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    37. Leila, I also can not stand the claim that those who would tolerate or allow the suffering of others are not "compassionate." It's all about "compassion" too, a very twisted sort of compassion. As in, if you are not supportive of the mother that wants to smother her disabled child, then you are not compassionate. If you don't support a woman choosing abortion then you are not compassionate. See? Your moral flaw of "lacking compassion" is far worse than the sin about to be committed. And they seem to have NO compassion themselves for the true victim in these situations, which, conveniently for them, is not them!

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    38. Danya, excellent point! And the last line....you are so right. Why are the "compassionate" ones always dehumanizing someone else, or judging the "quality of life" of someone else? With abortion, it is one person defining another person's very humanity. Convenient, as you say.

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    39. Good post.
      As for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, I really don't understand the mindset of the liberals against her. Does she make them feel guilty? I think so. The guilty lash out at those whose actions point out their guilt. A lot of liberals talk a lot about helping the poor, but they don't always do anything about it. Mother Teresa got down and dirty so-to-speak to help those who were ALREADY SUFFERING, already poor, and thrown away to die in the streets by their families. How is comforting those who are already suffering a crime? She was helping the poor one person at a time in a very personal, very compassionate way. She wasn't trying to make suffering 'heroic' or 'good' but she was easing the suffering of those sick, old, infirm, dying, poor in the streets of India. I don't know that I would have the strength to do it. I admire her very much.

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    40. Oh boy, Leila, I have a lot of catch-up reading to do on your posts!

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    41. Mai -

      If you want to better understand our viewpoint, you should listen to this: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2010/10/why-i-went-from-pro-choice-to-pro-life-audio.html

      It's truly the best explanation I've ever heard. She starts by describing her former pro-choice views and her logic behind them, and she does the same for her pro-life views. I'd be interested in your response to her logic. If you like, we can have this discussion over at my blog so as not to hijack Leila's.

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    42. Hi all the liberal commenters. I am not catholic (I do really enjoy your posts and find it really hard to bite my tongue, Leila :) But I am not a liberal, either. Do you know why? Because I was born and lived enough years in a liberal society to know that though 'freedom to all' sound great as a motto, when it comes to practical aspects, it's quite scary. It turns people into, well, animals, the animals they believe they evolved from, a mean, self-gratifying, 'destroy-the-weak among us' pack. I am sorry to use language as strong as this, but candy-coating the truth just produces more liberals. You live in a country where people will not run to the government office to tell on their neighbor hoping to get them in prison just because of a disagreement between them or something they own (like, a car). You are lucky. You can promote your liberal ideas from a safety of a Christian country. But the future to which liberalism leads is bleak. Like I said, I know it because I survived it. A few of my siblings didn't. In fact, since my mother had 'the right' to terminate their life before they were born (and used it, too) I will never even know how many siblings I lost and if they were brothers or sisters. She simply refuses to tell me. Though she will never admit to it, she is ashamed of her choice. We were not poor. We lived very comfortably. I know for sure she didn't do it because they were sick. She told me that much. She did it out of convenience. And though many liberals make abortion about the 'poor raped teenager and a very sick baby', most abortions are done for convenience. What a shame!

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    44. To Mai:
      Do you disagree with Leila's post on suffering? Please, I beg of you, do not take the cowardly way out by simply saying you simply can't go there. PLEASE. GO THERE.

      If you think you are right and Leila is wrong, you should explain why. Seriously, I cannot believe you would believe it is okay to kill an infant who is disabled, but perhaps I am wrong?

      The sad thing is that liberals such as yourself RARELY defend their views without resorting to name calling or labeling the other side as idiotic. Please, I beg of you: explain your perception on suffering here without doing either of those things. Please, respond to Leila's points. I am dying to know what your response is; obviously you disagree, but why? You are not representing your views very well at all. I know you must be smarter than what has been represented on this blog.

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    48. Sadly, Olya is dead on about the majority of abortions being for convenience. I have seen exactly ONE teenage unwed mother planning to abort in my imaging center. But I've seen MULTIPLE married women in their 20s, 30s and 40s (mostly 30s and 40s) planning to abort. These are the women willing to pay the big bucks for a quickie operation in their Drs office, without the hoopla of the abortion clinic, so you won't see them there.

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    50. Paul: there's an excellent refutation to that argument here (opens as a pdf).

      The short version: it's an imperfect analogy that really doesn't hold water once scrutinized.

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    52. hey Paul et. al.,
      don't get me wrong, I love reading Leila's posts and adding two cents. I'm just tired of the abortion debate because there really never seems to be any possibility for consensus. One side yells murder and abortion out of convenience, the other side tries to point out it's not about convenience and so on and so forth. I'll wait patiently for another debate.

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    53. Paul - not much time here (and I'm nursing a squirmy baby as I type, so please excuse typos), but I'll try to at least briefly address your points:

      "1- knowing that something is a possible outcome does not mean consent to the outcome; you don't consent to be run over when you cross the street"

      However, if you're engaging in behaviors that dramatically increase the likelihood of getting hit by a car, you can't claim you didn't see it coming (no pun intended). Sex is the act that makes babies. That is its primary purpose. No birth control has a method failure rate of 0% so one can not engage in the sexual act with complete assurance that a pregnancy will not occur (the exception being a woman who has undergone a hysterectomy, or a woman with no fallopian tubes/ovaries, etc.). It's not so much a consent as it is taking responsibility for the consequences of the choices you made.

      2 - I think the point was a woman has more of an obligation to her child than to some random violinist.

      "(3) misses the point because the degree of difficulty by itself should have no obvious effect on the morality of the outcome (and isn't the main moral obstacle: the use of someone else's body without consent). Some pregnancies are that hard; should abortion be legal for those cases?"

      I disagree that a baby is "using someone's body without consent." See #1. It's different of course in rape/incest situations, but even then the act of violence was not the child's fault or responsibility; s/he is also a victim and shouldn't be punished for a crime s/he didn't commit or intend.

      If you have sex, you must accept the possibility of pregnancy no matter how many layers of contraception. The chance is there, however remote, so one can't claim there was no consent when you engage in an act that is meant to create babies as its primary purpose.

      As for the difficulty of pregnancy, nine months of bedrest is EXTREMELY rare. Women who have difficult pregnancies need help and support, not the guilt of abortion. Go to www.beyondmorningsickness.com -- the author had an abortion due to severe hyperemesis and says living with the guilt is worse than continuing the pregnancy would've been.

      (4) See the Principle of Double Effect.

      5 - why do you say this misses the point?

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    54. Hi, Paul - I'm not sure why I used to post so much. I originally thought it was to find common ground between liberals and Catholics, but Leila informs me that is not one of her goals.

      It was interesting, for a while, to be the 'face' of a liberal on whom a bunch of Catholic bloggers took out their rage on liberals in general. But I'm not understanding the reasoning behind begging me to comment and at the same time insulting me.

      Like Miss G, my original intent was to sit out this discussion and join one that isn't quite so fraught with emotion, and where there would be more hope to find a little common ground, but at this point, it isn't worth it to keep at it.

      Best of luck to you all.

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    55. I was out of town today and so I am just catching up! So glad that this convo has gone on nicely in my absence! It's exactly how I want this blog to work.

      Paul, I like how JoAnn is answering and I will let her continue.

      JoAnn, I am so sorry, your first comment went to my spam folder, but I have just corrected that!

      Gwen, this post was not about abortion, it was about the liberal view of suffering. So, your comment has me confused.

      Mai, "rage" and "fraught with emotion"? Huh? What blog are you reading?

      More later, playing catch up now....

      Keep going though... I love the dialogue!

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    56. Special needs babies are SUFFERING too!!! IF you are PRO-LIFE, ADOPT a special needs baby or an older child. They need homes, too. A life is a life is a life.

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    57. Some more quick points (because I swear I am ADD!):

      Olya, I always appreciate your input on the leftist ideas, because you lived it (Communism in Eastern Europe). Utopia looks different in reality than in theory. I hope you keep speaking out on that. Thank you.

      Paul, the way you describe your beliefs, you don't seem like a liberal to me (just my two cents). As for the violinist argument, I can't go there... I need something that might even remotely be possible in the realm of reality. That is why I could pose the terrorist question. Though highly unlikely, it is at least conceivable. Besides, to me the question of relationship is so obvious: We are talking about a mother and her child! To pit a mother and her child against each other is unconscionable, and yet it's what modern feminists do. Classical feminists rightly saw that as an outrage. (Don't get me wrong... I know that you are not arguing the validity of the violinist scenario anyway.)

      Also, Paul, I don't get the "common sense" thing about embryos not being persons. I get that it's your opinion and that you feel it's obvious. I get that, truly. But you present it as if it should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it. However, I can assure you that many brilliant minds (and many average ones) have thought about it and conclude quite easily that conception begins a human life. So, the common sense you speak of is not held by probably at least 50% of the populace. (I tend to think it's higher, though, as many pro-abortion folk might still acknowledge that life begins at conception -- just not "personhood.") My only point is, how is it "common sense" when half the public sees the other side as common sense?

      One last thing: Delineating personhood at "having brainwaves". I understand your points, but isn't that line of demarkation still just your opinion on what makes a person? I don't get how there is any substantial difference (literally, substantial) between an embryo the minute before it gets brainwaves and the minute after.

      Quick question for Mai: Do you agree with Miss G that it would be okay in some cases to kill a child after he/she is already born? (Not that I am trying to make this an abortion debate, because I would like to have someone, anyone, comment on the substance of my post, which was suffering. Thanks, LifeHopes.)

      Consensus is not my aim (I know that liberals love the idea of consensus), clarity and understanding is my aim.

      Thanks!

      PS: Anonymous, amen!!

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    58. Paul, I just noticed that I totally confused one of my paragraphs, above. I am sorry! I know that your position is that you don't know when human life begins, and you believe personhood to begin after brainwaves appear. I was trying to say that at least half the populace doesn't see the common sense of brainwave = personhood. Even really smart people. So, I don't think it's common sense. It just seems like your opinion.

      Sorry again for the confusion.

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    59. Miss Gwen, you said, I'm not even sure anymore why we're "asked" to respond to these punitive judgments when the point is to prove all liberal thought illogical.

      I have said just the opposite about you on many occasions! I have said that you are logical in your thought. Just like Peter Singer is. I have said that numerous times, so I don't understand why you wrote that. Help?

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    60. mai-please show me rage...? I wait....

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    61. Okay. I just finished reading some Singer. Most folks defend abortion or think it is okay because they think the life created is not a human. They ARE victims of dehumanization propaganda. I learned this at UC Berkeley by the way, folks! It was my MAJOR.

      Singer takes another angle:

      First premise: It is wrong to take innocent human life.

      Second premise: From conception onwards, the embryo or fetus is innocent, human and alive.

      Conclusion: It is wrong to take the life of the embryo or fetus.[15]

      In his book Rethinking Life and Death, as well as in Practical Ethics, Singer asserts that, if we take the premises at face value, the argument is deductively valid. Singer comments that those who do not generally think abortion is wrong attack the second premise, suggesting that the fetus becomes a "human" or "alive" at some point after conception; however, Singer argues that human development is a gradual process, that it is nearly impossible to mark a particular moment in time as the moment at which human life begins.


      Singer at MIT.Singer's argument for abortion differs from many other proponents of abortion; rather than attacking the second premise of the anti-abortion argument, Singer attacks the first premise, denying that it is wrong to take innocent human life:

      [The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life.[16]

      Singer states that arguments for or against abortion should be based on utilitarian calculation which weighs the preferences of a mother against the preferences of the fetus.

      Just because one is not considered "legally alive" does not mean it is true.

      As was the case of slavery which legally said that a black person was less than a person.

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    62. What I learned in Berkeley is that much oppression and violence is based on the process of DEhumanization. Their is a scapegoat impulse in the human person that arises when tenstions in society increase to the breaking point. Rituals relieve this tension by the way.

      In order to carry out the violence that follows (think Nazism, think genocide, abortioncide) and the guilt that accompanies such, societies and individuals DEhumanize and Depersonalize the victim. This pattern of human behavior was true in slavery, racism, war, the Salem Witch Trials, euthanasia, and abortion. YEP! My professor, a total liberal in EVERY sense of the world, actually knew this applied ALSO to abortion. He felt that one of the three greatest acts of nonviolence in teh 21st Century were: Gandhi's salt march, MLK's freedom march AND Mother Theresa's speech to the Nobel Lauret gang in Sweden!

      But he is old school non-violence. Akin to Mahatma Gandhi and MLK. I was his protege and he was my teacher. So, you know, Leila, there is ONE Liberal out there, who teaches ALL the most left leaning stuff, who knows that a pro-abortion stance is actually illogical for a compassionate liberal as it is extremely pro-violence and dehumanizing.

      By the way his name is Dr. Michael N. Nagler.

      But, my other mentor was a world known Peace Activist (I will not "out him") who confessed to me that he made his wife have not 1 but 2 abortions so he could continue to carry out his work on behald of the world's poor and oppressed.

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    63. I'll try to give more insight(s) about suffering in the liberal world view:

      1) Tragically, there is nothing after death and most of us were created by a lustful act or by an evolutionary impluse;
      2) The material body that one NOW has, is all there is;
      3) the enjoyment/pleasure that can be experienced by this body reigns supreme and should be the basis of decision making (it is also the basis of human motivation and evolutionary biology);
      4) (suffering is gonna come, so live it up while you can);
      4) Things, events, people, anything that gets in the way of this enjoyment should be avoided and can be destroyed if need be;
      5) However, this might make one feel a feeling religious people call guilt;
      6) Even if guilt is a created concept and is irrational, it is stil there and has to be dealt with by denial, suppression, or projection;
      6) Asuage such guilt by helping those less fortunate, particularly those that are materially less fortunate;
      7) In the meantime continue to enjoy the good things of this world, try to live in the best possible neighborhood (as far away from the less-thans), have a thinking based job that gives you prestige (no sweat equity required), and do your best to create the smallest carbon footprint you can.

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    64. Little JoAnn, I really enjoyed and appreciated reading your insights. Thank you for sharing them!

      Your last post makes particular sense with why the new age movement is so big. There is no sin. Avoid whatever and whoever leads to suffering. Try to project as much positive energy into the universe as possible so it will come back to you.

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    66. Little JoAnn- I miss your blog!

      Paul- although we have differing views, I appreciate your concise writing and explanations of your views. Thanks for offering your insights, they are appreciated!

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    67. Paul, first, about liberalism:

      I agree with you that not all liberals think alike. I would say the same about conservatives. However, classical liberals are not in charge these days. The "very radical very tiny minority" are actually in charge of the institutions these days. They run and teach in the universities. They are the movers and shakers of the arts and entertainment. They have a heavy hand over the public school system. They may not speak for every liberal in Middle America, but they are setting policy. That is why

      1) I want to understand how they think
      2) I want others (including classical liberals) to understand how they think (thus my post on how the Democratic Party long ago left classical liberalism and has become leftist and hostile to religion)
      3) I want everyone, conservative and liberal, to understand that what the far left believes and does matters because of the scope and influence the left has on our everyday lives (Obama and his buddies have come a long way in waking up the public).

      More in a minute...

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    68. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for answering my question! I'm sorry that I didn't realize you considered yourself to be "pro-life" and I'm glad you recognize that my 23 week old unborn baby is a person :)

      I think it was your casual attitude toward ending the life of embryos that made me assume you were pro-abortion/pro-choice.

      I'm really trying to follow your brain wave reasoning. Like Leila, I think I understand what you're saying-just not seeing how it holds up. Does science know the exact moment that brain waves appear? I would take a guess and say that's it a gradual process-not a split second thing. I doubt that a 4 week old baby has no brain waves and then suddenly develops them at 4 week, 1 day for example. Do you get what I'm saying? At what point in the "brain wave development" would you start to give it personhood. Would we still kill the embryo if it only had 10 brain waves?Five? Only one? One that is emerging? How would we be able to tell that it is emerging? (I am NOT a scientist or gifted in thought in this area of biology. I am really asking these questions.)

      I like your rationale of not knowing if the fetus is a person, so giving it the benefit of the doubt is best, erring on the side of life if you will.

      This is what President Obama should really be doing if he feels defining when life begins is "above his paygrade". He should be erring on the side of caution since he isn't sure about when life begins. Perhaps you agree with this?

      I only wonder how you can be SURE that life does NOT begin at conception. If you're not absolutely sure (which I think you feel you are-I just don't understand the reasoning that brought you there) then wouldn't you agree that this is another time to err on the side of life?

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    69. As for human life. It seems clear to me that the line of demarkation is conception. Once the sperm and egg fuse, there is an entity there that did not exist before that point. A new entity -- a new human being. I don't have much science background, but I think I am right when I say that it is possible to discern, even before the brainwaves, whether or not the embryo is a boy or a girl (that is how they screen for certain sex-related diseases in IVF, no?). So, if I am a newly pregnant woman, there is something (someone) inside me that is not me. That embryo can't be "me" because there is a 50% chance that it is a BOY. I am not a boy.

      When I was pregnant with my six boys, they were boys from the time they were conceived. Also, my girls were girls, but I want to be very clear on the fact that the embryo in general is not "me." I house the embryo, I feed the embryo, I grow the embryo, but it is not "me".

      Was the egg "me"? Yes. Was it a "human life"? No, because it only has half the chromosomes of a human life. It has my DNA. It is not an "individual life" (or, as I would say, an individual person) as an embryo is.

      I don't know if science can yet tell the eye color or hair color of the embryo in the same way we can determine its sex, but I am certain that at some point we will be able to do so. My point is: That embryo has a sex (that is 50% likely to be different from mine), it has an eye color, it has a hair color, it has an eventual height, a predisposition for its own diseases, etc. Those things exist in the embryo. They are not things to come, they already exist. The embryo is a boy or a girl before it even has brainwaves.

      So, it's easy. The embryo is not me. It's not my husband. It's an entity unto itself, and it is unique.

      Conception (the joining of egg and sperm) begins "something" that doesn't end until death. The life may die ten minutes later, ten days later, ten years later or ten decades later. But it's a continuum.

      An embryo is to a fetus as a fetus is to a baby as a baby is to a child as a child is to an adolescent as an adolescent is to an adult as an adult is to an elderly person. Unbroken continuum.

      Nothing is added to the embryo once it exists. Nothing but nutrition, just like every other human being. It starts as one cell and keeps growing. To signal out brainwaves as the point where it suddenly "becomes" something essentially different doesn't make sense to me. It is the same entity.

      And even when the continuum ends, and one day (maybe at eighty years old) when the human being dies, and when the brainwaves stop, he/she does not then cease to be human. You don't have a non-human being then, you simply have a dead human being. But that dead human being is the same entity that began as a single cell, at conception.

      I hope that helps you understand my position on human life.

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    70. Paul, you are way smarter than me on all things scientific. If you haven't heard of Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, you need to be all over his writings. He has a doctorate in neuroscience from Yale University, four undergraduate degrees -- in molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, biochemistry and philosophy --and two degrees in advanced theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

      He is, obviously, a brilliant man (and young!). He speaks on bioethics all over the nation and world, and he can no doubt give you more clarity than me on all these issues (he speaks A LOT on embryonic stem cell research, IVF, human cloning, etc.). Google him! :) He can raise the scientific discourse for you in ways that I cannot.

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    71. Paul - As Leila mentioned, Fr. Tad is great. You can find some of his writings here.

      Re: your comments:

      Also, I don't buy into double effect.

      Why not?

      But my problem is, I cross the street. There's no way for me to reduce the chances of getting run over to 0%. Does that mean I asked to get run over? Foreseeing consequences does not imply consenting to those consequences.

      I think your analogy only works if getting run over by a car was the primary purpose of crossing the street.

      Say you're engaging in the act of crossing the street knowing that the entire point of crossing the street was to get hit by a car, but you take precautions by crossing at the crosswalk, hoping this would prevent you from getting hit. However, it doesn't, and you get hit anyway. Could it honestly be said that you absolutely could not foresee the consequences of your actions, and thus should not have to take responsibility for them?

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    73. Paul-How about a beating heart. Is that not enough?

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    75. JoAnna, great points! I think the modern contraceptive mindset is what causes so much confusion. We no longer see that sex is designed to make babies. We have decided, as a culture, that sex is recreational, and that it is only peripherally related to making babies (only if we "want" it to). That is how Mai could come up with a statement like this (on her blog, which has now gone private):

      Don’t try to tell me how I should have sex, or how I should even think about sex. I have decided, for me, that I enjoy it and it has the side benefit of producing children, it has the even more important benefit of making me feel good and bringing me closer to my husband, the father of my child. (Emphasis mine)

      When we don't see sex as primarily for making children (within the wonderful and pleasurable context of married love, which bonds us to our spouses), then everything gets skewed, and abortion is a given.

      It's like if we said, "Food is for me to enjoy and get pleasure from! And, the side benefit is that it keeps me alive." See how distorted our view of food would be? Food is actually primarily for keeping us alive, and yet has the wonderful, amazing benefit of being pleasurable and delicious, too. If we mix up the right order of things, lots of bad results. That's true of anything.

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    76. Paul, I am glad you are going to ask Fr. Ted. He is the one who can speak to it on a higher scientific level.

      You will have to educate me here: If I have cancer, is a cancer cell not my cell? I don't know enough about cancer cells.

      And no matter the answer, can that cancer be determined to be a boy or a girl, with brown eyes, as an embryo can?

      As for a dead human, I believe the (common sense, not scientific) criteria for death is that all systems shut down, and things like rigor mortis set in. I don't think it's even close to what happens when an embryo is developing, so I really don't think there is a clear analogy there. Tell me if I am missing something....

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    80. Paul...I'm not sure any Catholic is a prude...Look at the family sizes. :)

      Even though Mrs. Duggar isn't Catholic, ummm, she sure is "givin" it up! ;)

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    81. Sorry, my mistake! Mai's blog has not gone private; it is still available.

      Paul, I am trying to follow. But though a cancer cell may "change" someone's eye color, a cancer cell cannot "have" an eye color. Nor can it be a boy or a girl. Embryos and cancer cells are different, substantially.

      More in sec....

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    82. Paul, I think you said you were a Christian. Where do you get that view of sex?

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    84. So, if it's the Christian view that sex and procreation are not integral to each other, then can you tell me why you think God connected the two (sex and procreation)? Was it a mistake in His design?

      You'll have to cite your evidence if you are saying that procreation is not the purpose of sex (with married love as the context and meaning). Where do you get that in Christianity?

      Perhaps I am misunderstanding you? If you are saying that sex is good between married people even when it does not (or cannot) produce babies, then I agree with you.

      A Bible verse about surrogate moms would be as anachronistic as a Bible verse about automobiles.

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    86. Paul, if you can't see that sex and procreation are integrally connected, then I admit that I am baffled into silence. It seems as plain as day to me. So, on that subject, we have clarity at least: You believe sex and babies are only incidentally related, I believe them to be integrally related, by design.

      As far as surrogacy and "who's to say" on issues not explicitly discussed in the Bible, do you believe that's true for any modern practice or belief? In other words, if it's not explicit, then we can't truly know whether that something is right or wrong?

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    88. Paul, have you read Kreeft's Handbook of Christian Apologetics or Handbook of Catholic Apologetics?

      I think you would appreciate the discussions therein.

      As far as not being sure what the Bible means, we Catholics would say that is why Christ founded a Church, with a teaching authority protected by the Holy Spirit. (A post for another day...)

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    89. I am baffled, according to behavorism/evolutionary theory sex primarily exists to continue the species. Do you concur Paul?

      Do you think that the theory of evolution is incorrect?

      Also, by reducing humans to brainwaves your are saying that you believe that humans are ultimately only material in nature. It's just a simple arguement of materialism.

      Singer disagrees. He sees human development as a journey of development over time.

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    90. Wow! I'm just sitting down to catch up on the last 24 hours of posts and am captivated by the breadth and depth of the discussion.

      Paul, regarding your general lack of certainty in being able to know that a lot of things are true, including claims and definitions of human life, as a Christian there is one blanket explanation of that weakening of knowledge and of will: original sin. Because we turned our back on God, both in the first sin and in each of our individual, sinful, broken states, we were removed from a face-to-face, intimate relationship with God that our original parents shared with him and walked in the Garden. There was no question of what is truth; they knew it--knew HIM, the great I AM--intimately. While we are under the effects of sin, there is no way to have doubtless, unblemished faith in anything on our own. The only way to get "reacquainted" with him is first to (1) love him with our whole being and will; and (2) submit to him and what he has revealed about himself to us. Without those two things--love and obedience--our search for truth remains an exercise in futility.

      Leila just did a great post focused on Pontius Pilate's question, "What is truth?" where she hit it very succintly.

      I realize that you try to avoid using religious/theological arguments in the public square, but we as Christians have to believe in Him because, in the end, human reason can only take us so far. When all is said and done, he (Christ) is the only answer we have and need. In fact, his claim to be that Christ was so radical, almost unbelievable, that they executed him for it.

      To avoid us grasping for answers and wallowing in doubt, he rose from the dead, walked among us as living evidence that death is not the end of the person. He has left us with the promise of his Resurrection, the seal of the Spirit, and the teaching authority of the Church, to fall back on. Everything else (including our brainwaves) will fade away until the Resurrection and final judgment.

      Hope that's not too "preachy" but that's our perspective.

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    91. One Man, thank you! You stated that so beautifully!

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    92. One Man, thank you!

      I'd like to add one further thought.

      Suffering on earth makes absolutely no sense without the promise of a reward in heaven.

      I just spent three weeks watching my newborn baby girl suffer a tremendous amount of pain. Pain so serious that it will change her personality and her perception of the world for her whole life.

      My husband and I suffered emotional pain for each and every every physically painful procedure that our little girl encountered.

      The concept of "redemptive suffering" is what allows Christians to handle their own pain and others pain without fainting.

      So for everyone one who says "what good is an infant who is bound for a life of painful suffering", as a mother of an extremely ill kid I'd now say "Have you met my buddy- Jesus?"

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    93. Have you seen the story of the couple who want their surrogate to kill their child that she's carrying because the baby might have Down's Syndrome?

      The first comment encapsulates what a lot of people say in situations like this:

      Obviously, whatever the contract dictates is what should be legally binding. I know for myself, I would truly struggle with the choice of bringing a disabled baby into the world. I guess I feel that if the surrogate is choosing, she should be the one to raise the child. I am a mother and I am pro-choice. I do not take the notion of terminating a pregnancy lightly. However, I also work with young people and know that an unwanted child feels just that - unwanted. An unwanted child with Downs would be even more neglected and sad. Only my opinion....

      Once again, suffering is seen as the worst thing ever.

      Here's what I always wonder about: usually people who make arguments like this are also in favor of assisted suicide. Why not just let people be born and let them kill themselves if their lives are that bad? (Obviously I don't personally advocate for suicide, but it seems that that would be the intellectually consistent take within that worldview.)

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    94. Here's a hint on something I will post on eventually. This is from Sacramento's Bishop Soto:

      Marriage is no longer understood as the covenant of love between a man and a woman that creates life, because procreation is no longer associated with sexual intercourse. In this new social situation, many shrug their shoulders and wonder why a sexual relationship between any two people who care for each other cannot be called a marriage.

      More here:

      http://catholickey.blogspot.com/2010/10/do-you-know-why-catholics-dont-care.html

      Contraception has not only ushered in abortion, but also acceptance of gay "marriage". It's all connected.

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    96. Paul, just trying to get clarity on what you believe. Short of abortion (after brainwaves) and short of doing physical harm to a person, are you okay with anything that science can do? Would it all be ethical, or moral? Or does science have to stop short at certain points. In other words, do you agree that just because science can do something, that doesn't mean science should do something? Or maybe you think if science can do it, then it should be done?

      Another question, for clarity: Let's say a healthy, free and functioning person wanted to cut off his own arm, or make himself deaf, or derail any other healthy, functioning bodily part or system... would that be moral in your opinion? Not possible, or legal, but moral? Because you are a Christian, I am interested in your answer.

      Thanks!

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    97. Paul:

      I would love to hear how your adherence to these paradigms we are all discussing translates into your life (if you feel free to share!)

      Do you have any children?
      Have you ever conceived any children?
      Are you married?
      If no, do you want to be married?
      Do you use contraception or do you have your partner(s) use it?
      Do you want children (if you have yet to have any that were born?)

      I am not so much interested in the philosophical basis of these beliefs, but more so what you have done personally.

      When a journalist once asked Mahatma Gandhi, "What message would you like to send to the world" he responded, "My life is my message."

      So, I am interested in what your "message" is along with your "thoughts."

      I think we can not only learn a lot about humanity and the purpose of human life by intellectual debate but also my how others choose to live out their lives.

      So, I would love to hear about your actions.

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    100. Paul, congrats on your baby boy! My baby boy is seven months old. :)

      I'm interested that you have said that harming one's healthy bodily functions "probably wouldn't be right" and even "wrong" but then you say that God will sort all of that out. I agree that God will sort out everything in the end, but isn't it our responsibility to determine what the moral thing is on earth and then to do it? We don't just leave it to God to sort out in the end, do we? Were does our responsibility lie in things moral, and what is our obligation to moral truths?

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    101. Paul, I am sure you have researched the subject, but here is my little contribution on populations control, food shortages, etc.

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/08/myth-of-overpopulation.html

      I am a nuclear energy fan, too. The American left has pretty much put the kibosh on that.

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    105. Paul,

      Congratulations on your sweet baby. I hope you did not take my questions as intrusive. I find knowing how people live out their life philosophy to be very interesting and helpful.

      I use to work for a very famous peace activist...he has literally saved hundreds of peoples lives by practing non-violent resistance and something called protective accompaniment (where neutral third party people stand between warring factions). Peacekeepers presence in these situations of hostility and violence has stop armed conflict situations around the world.

      My friend also was one of the first white persons to join the civil rights movement working full-time to de-segregate the lunch counters in the South. He literally stood between hundreds of racist attackers and was almost killed at knife point during one famous incident. His patience and love of his enemy helped this country end segregation and the Jim Crow Laws.

      He is considered a hero in our society (and he is). He has received many awards for negotiating peace settlements around the world, fighting institutionalized poverty, liberating freedom fighters, protecting the environment, helping societies overcome racism, sexism and oppression. His awards are so numerous that I can't elaborate them all here.

      He told me that he asked his wife to have 2 abortions during their marriage because he thought raising more kids would prevent him from doing the work he was called to do for the oppressed.

      He told me this because he felt that the guilt over this decision has haunted him and left him with chronic depression that he has never been able to shake. He also told me his marriage suffered irreparable harm, he and his wife suffered a lot of mutual hurt and unhappiness.

      Meeting this person was one of the first break throughs I had that ones personal life ethic matters. I saw first hand how the violence of abortion and the contracetion mentality could utterly destroy a person, a marriage, and a family, even in a person that was otherwise doing everything right by society's standards. His life helped me to seek out truths beyond the liberal paradigm that I had been taught and I ended up converting to Catholicism.

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    106. Paul, the American left has hijacked the term "liberal". You may not be on the far left, but I promise you they are the ones setting the policy and the agenda for the Democratic Party and for "liberals" (even unsuspecting, classical liberals). Of course not everyone of the left is against nuclear energy (look at France!), but the American leftist enviromentalists and their allies in Congress, the media, academia, etc. have made "nuclear energy" seem, well, toxic. :)

      Please read my post on generalization. If we have to note all exceptions every time we have a discussion, unfortunately I'd have no time to blog or even speak to anyone.

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/generalizing-is-not-bad-thing.html

      Maybe I need to use the term "progressive" to talk of the left which controls policy (and currently controls the White House)? I don't know... I really dislike using that term for people whose philosophy is actually quite old.

      More in a bit....

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    107. Paul,

      My little guy (who turn eight months next week) is doing great! He sits up well now, and he just learned how to crawl. Now I need to hide the papers and books, as he's begun to eat them and rip them. That fun part is still to come for you!

      He has three nice sharp little teeth on the bottom and is good-natured and content (not all of mine were!).

      Right now, for some reason, he does not want to nap?? Doesn't he know Mommy's blogging?

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    108. Paul, regarding morality and ethics, and what we can and cannot know: It seems as if you discount out-of-hand the idea of divine revelation and a teaching Church founded by Christ and protected by the Holy Spirit? Correct me if I'm wrong. But it seems your feeling is that morality is somewhat fuzzy and ultimately a mystery.

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    110. Without diving into any of the controversy brought up in the comments, I wanted to give you my simple opinion about the original topic
      Yes, suffering is bad. Suffering is to be avoided.

      However, I think that my beliefs about suffering stem from being an atheist, not from being a liberal (though the two often go hand in hand).

      Without any sort of notion of "redemptive suffering" (which I can see would be extremely comforting in bad situations to those who believe in it), I think it would be clear to you why atheists would want to avoid suffering. My time here on earth is all I have, so I want to make it as joyful as possible. I am under no illusion that I can eliminate all suffering from the world, but I certainly do what I can to ease the suffering around me, experienced by myself, my friends and family, and strangers alike.


      So sorry that I keep commenting on all of your old posts; you probably have enough to read. I just find that once I read something I have to add my two cents. I can't help it!

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    111. Mrs. M, I love your two cents! What you say here makes perfect sense to me. Thank you.

      And, just for the record, Catholics are definitely required to help ease or eliminate the suffering of others if they are able to do so. But when our own suffering cannot be avoided, we offer it to God and make it meaningful and redemptive.

      Thanks for being here and being so clear and thorough.

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    112. I know you posted this like two years ago, but I'm just discovering all your posts!
      I was speaking to a Hindu friend of mine about suffering...she said divorce was "fate". So, I asked her how she knew what was fate and what wasn't and she decided that you'd never know. I told her that wasn't true (I think I was discovering this while I spoke to her), but you can suffer because you've done everything right (trying to live without sin) or suffer because you've done wrong (rejecting, willfully, your search for Objective Truth). If you suffer because you did wrong, this suffering and pain was preventable. This knowledge causes a loss of peace. However, if you suffer because you had chosen not to sin, it's "meant to be" (willed by God). She did end up agreeing with me on this which made my day ;)

      I think part of what makes redemptive suffering peaceful is not only that we know we can "offer it up", but because we know our suffering is meant to be. It's not a product of something we have done wrong; so, we know there is no way we could have avoided it and we have no regrets. I think it's when we realize this is in fact our lot that we have the fortitude to bear suffering, and unite it with Christ's.

      I'm curious if you can add to this. For example, if there is one thing I could tell a non-catholic friend on a quest for truth, should it be 1)seek actively and 2) stay away from what the Catholic Church defines as sin so your reception of wisdom isn't impaired? Or should I omit #2 since *I think* it wouldn't be considered a sin for them anyway as they aren't Catholic?

      Anyway, fantastic post Leila keep it up!

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    113. Crystal, great comment! And on the #2 question: Yes! The moral law is universal, so any sin, even inadvertent, would be best avoided so as to perceive the truth more easily. Virtue benefits everyone, and that is all the moral law really is about: being virtuous, so that the heart is pure and can see God.

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    114. That totally makes sense! Thanks! (Sorry I took to long to reply, I hadn't hit the "subscribe via email.")

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    115. Of course. Thanks! (Sorry I took so long to reply, I hadn't subscribed via email).

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