Monday, June 07, 2010

Aborting babies conceived through IVF

Some years back, His Grace accepted an invitation to speak to a group of the gathered faithful in Northern Ireland. As is his wont, he had carefully prepared his speech, crafted its content and honed its verbiage. He was quite satisfied with what he was going to say (though he cannot recall now precisely what that was). But on the aeroplane to Belfast, he was reading a newspaper which hijacked his entire mindset.

The article which so offended and infected his intended speech concerned a prisoner, incarcerated for some unmemorable misdemeanour, who had qualified for and undergone ‘gender realignment’ (male to female) surgery whilst a guest of Her Majesty.

On the NHS, of course.

As if this were not sufficiently irritating, the prisoner had subsequently changed his mind, and had the surgery reversed.

Again, on the NHS (ie the taxpayer).

To be honest, His Grace truly cannot recall the matter of his original speech, or even what the gathered faithful of North Down had asked him to speak about. But he does recall the impromptu extemporisation and fulsome condemnation of this sort of approach to taxpayer-funded ‘healthcare’.

He had a similar reaction when he read in The Times of the ‘dozens of young women’ who undergo months and sometimes years of very expensive IVF treatment (courtesy of the taxpayer), finally become pregnant, and then decide to abort their child ‘because they have changed their minds about becoming a mother’:

Data obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority reveal that an average of 80 abortions are carried out in England Wales and Scotland each year following IVF treatment. Up to half of these involve prospective mothers aged 18-34. These women — usually the healthiest — are the least likely to conceive babies with abnormalities, suggesting a “social” reason may have led to the decision.
Setting aside for a moment why women as young as 18 might be undergoing IVF treatment, and further setting aside that these 80 abortions really are just drops of blood in the annual ocean of slaughter, the scandal is that the NHS now appears to be complicit in the murder of wanted babies.

Even the pro-abortionists amongst His Grace’s readers and communicants might find this rather sickening. From a purely utilitarian perspective, the Pro-Lifer’s have no problem grasping the concept of seeking to abort that which is not and never has been wanted: it is just a bunch of cells, parasitical upon the host woman who has the ‘right’ in law to do with her body as she wishes.

But abortion which terminates the life of a child which has not only been planned but invasively procured through intervention in nature’s barren course is not only unethical, it is barbaric.

If the NHS is to survive in the future (that is, be affordable), it is precisely this sort of grotesque practice which needs to be curtailed. There may be no appetite amongst our legislators to outlaw abortion altogether, but it is a certain fact that there now is a sizeable movement now in favour of reform.

Perhaps a woman who undergoes IVF ought to feel the material cost as well as the emotional one. Developing babies in the womb are not commodities to be bought one day and discarded the next like unfashionable bags and shoes: having children is not a human right.

118 Comments:

Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, I am not pro-abortionist but I am pro-choice. I do not claim the moral high ground by forcing my views on someone else. However, abortion was never something I could contemplate for myself. I was always very careful not to place myself in that position.

Aborting a child conceived via IVF is something else. These women made a conscious choice to become pregnant and then to terminate that pregnancy. They should have been presented with a bill, courtesy of taxpayers, for the full cost of the procedure.

7 June 2010 at 08:18  
Blogger Chromatistes said...

Your Grace will recall the 'Prayer for Children' that formed part of the traditional Anglican Marriage Service (when the bride was of childbearing age). And weep.

7 June 2010 at 08:37  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said...
Perhaps a woman who undergoes IVF ought to feel the material cost as well as the emotional one. Developing babies in the womb are not commodities to be bought one day and discarded the next like unfashionable bags and shoes: having children is not a human right.

I do not share the view common amongst my fellow atheists that abortion is simply about a woman’s rights although I would never wish it to be outlawed. In this instance I share Cranmer’s view that this is on the face of it repugnant. However perhaps there are circumstances where it is less so, for example if the husband of a pregnant woman deserts her and she is left with his child and no income with which to support her offspring an abortion may be morally acceptable as the least worst option.

Perhaps the NHS should at the very least not offer IVF again to a woman who has aborted a previous pregnancy except in exceptional circumstances.

As regards reducing abortion generally I think the only way this can be achieved is if all young people have seen an abortion on video before they become sexually active and for them to have discussed the morality of abortion fully within the context of a health/sex education lesson. One would hope that this might occur within an educational context where moral issues and personal responsibility have a much higher priority than at present. I don’t mean preaching a specific set of moral values but enabling young people to arrive at their own and to feel that this is an important aspect of their personal and social development.

7 June 2010 at 08:55  
Anonymous Bean Bag said...

It's a sickening world. What can you do?

7 June 2010 at 09:18  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Nice to have you back Your Grace.

I am in full agreement with Mr GD regarding the casual approach taken by certain women towards the unborn. It does not need an adherence to a specific religion or any, to regard such actions as borderline criminal if not immoral. What in nature is instinctive in parenting responsibilities seems somehow missing in some of the human species.

The NHS was never intended to provide vanity facilities and is in the mess it finds itself because like everything else in our ‘instant gratification’ society it has become the norm to equate almost everything in term of human rights.

Just because science has proved ‘it can’ should not mean that it ‘will’.

I have just read in the DM that someone has just paid £3000 to a clinic in Eastern Europe to have further IVF treatment to increase her family of children to 10. Ok she paid for it herself – I just hope that she and her husband/partner are going to paying the full amount in raising their brood without milking State benefits – but I very much doubt that.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284503/Baby-addict-aged-54-Mother-takes-family-10-thanks-IVF-twins.html

7 June 2010 at 09:42  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace

You said: 'From a purely utilitarian perspective, the Pro-Lifer’s have no problem grasping the concept of seeking to abort that which is not and never has been wanted: it is just a bunch of cells, parasitical upon the host woman who has the ‘right’ in law to do with her body as she wishes.'

I'm a 'Pro-Lifer', and I have a massive problem with it.

7 June 2010 at 09:51  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr English Viking,

Having 'a massive problem with it' was not what His Grace said, for he himself evidently has 'a massive problem with it'. However, if you have a problem grasping the concept, which is what His Grace said, then you would appear to be obtuse.

7 June 2010 at 09:56  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Abortion is just the tip of the ugly iceberg that is the modern western world view.

You only have to compare the realism and endurance of the African people on Jonathan Dimbleby's excellent programme last night, with the whining self-regard of the people in a trailer for some drama that followed it.
That is what we have become: too selfish to survive. The paradoxes involved are too numerous to detail, but it's tragic beyond expression.

7 June 2010 at 10:16  
Anonymous Fat Hen said...

Rather than agonise about the decisions that people make, worry about what drives the to make those decisions.

Woman abort because they don't want children.

Fix that and the abortion problem will go away.

7 June 2010 at 10:22  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

It is not 'obtuse' to struggle with the idea that an unborn child is 'parasitical'.

7 June 2010 at 10:22  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

I don't think that the government; ie us taxpayers; have any business getting involved in either creating or terminating life. I don't personally approve of either, but I am not in favour of banning them. However, I object to my money being spent on IVF and abortions. These are matters for which the NHS was not intended. Individuals should make their own arrangements.

7 June 2010 at 10:53  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Fat Hen said: "Woman [women?] abort because they don't want children."

No, women abort because they have a child.

"Fix that and the abortion problem will go away."

No, we are a viviparous species: fix that and the human race will go away.

7 June 2010 at 11:11  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Gnostic said: "Your Grace, I am not pro-abortionist but I am pro-choice. I do not claim the moral high ground by forcing my views on someone else."

Yes you do - by forcing abortion on a living, growing unborn human child.

7 June 2010 at 11:14  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Welcome back Your Grace.
Obviously the vetting procedure for IVF treatment on the NHS needs to be totally reviewed & tightened. Those wishing to adopt have to rightly undergo pages of questions plus interviews & close scrutiny before a decision is made, surely this should be the case for women who wish to receive IVF treatment. It is a symptom of the decadence which Western society has reached with 'I want' being the demand of many who treat the unborn as either a fashion accessory or a meal ticket.
I agree with Graham Davis on his point that film of the ghastly act & results of abortion should be shown to make those ignorant of the facts of the matter aware of the full consequences of their actions.

7 June 2010 at 11:14  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Archbishop Cranmer said: "Pro-Lifer’s have no problem grasping the concept of seeking to abort that which is not and never has been wanted: it is just a bunch of cells, parasitical upon the host woman who has the ‘right’ in law to do with her body as she wishes."

There is no "right in law to do with her body as she wishes" there is only the right not to be prosecuted.

7 June 2010 at 11:19  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Give it a rest Budgie, not everyone shares your views therefore we do you feel everyone should live by your views?

My opinion, got to agree with our host on this one. If you went looking for it only to abort it then that ain't on in most situations. I would still say if complications happened during pregnancy that had the potential to kill the mother then that is a slightly different kettle of fish.

7 June 2010 at 12:44  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

why* not we, apologies for the typo.

7 June 2010 at 12:44  
Anonymous Budgie said...

TheGlovner said: "... why do you feel everyone should live by your views?"

Why do you feel every unborn child should die by your views?

7 June 2010 at 12:56  
Anonymous Fat Hen said...

Even budgies build a nest and bond with their partner before laying eggs.

Human don't do the nest building and bonding all that well anymore nowadays as most of them are priced out of a normal family life or dissuaded by the legal position of males in family law, hence, no nests are built, no eggs are laid, no fledgelings are raised.

Another thing you guys are missing is that before abortion was legal, women killed their newborns regularly and often silently hated their unwanted offspring that survived to the point of turning them into emotional cripples, or worse, just ignored them completely and offered no love beyond basic maintenance.

Making abortion legal saved a lot of misery, for unwilling parents and the already born siblings.

Being born doesn't guarantee that a child will thrive and turn into an asset to society, every soul cripple we acquire is yet another nail in the coffin of our culture.

Parenting successfully is also an learned skill, and the generation of feral (but civilised) kids we have grown in the 70's 80's just hasn't got a clue how to parent, other than 'what one should not do'.

And, dare I say it, we already are struggling to look after the masses of discarded children or the kids we had to remove from unwilling and incapable parents for their own safety, and that despite there being a choice and every kid in theory being a much wanted one.

Those kids end up in the clutches of social workers and play guinea pigs to their socialist parenting theories first and then later on, they graduate seemlessly to crime, prostitution and jail, and if those kids have their own kids, serious neglect and abuse is the norm rather than the exception -- look up the figures and weep, only a handful makes it into normal life, almost no-one is saved, despite each of those kids costing the taxpayer more money than a posh kids in private school going on to Oxford.

Adopt I hear you say? Not a good idea either most of those second-hand kids are damaged beyond the pedagogic capabilities of a normal person by the age of 2, and many families were broken by the valiant attempt to rescue them.

So, the idea that if we do away with abortion the large dent in fabric of our society will magically buff out is a non-starter.

7 June 2010 at 12:59  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Budgie

"Why do you feel every unborn child should die by your views?"

A rather childish statement.

If you can't have a serious discussion without seriously misrepresenting the opposing views why bother having a discussion in the first place?

7 June 2010 at 13:03  
Anonymous John Hayward, Jubilee Centre said...

Did you see the My Daddy's Name is Donor report, studying the experience of adults conceived via sperm donation?

7 June 2010 at 13:46  
Blogger Scrigg said...

I am with you on this one YG. It's a shame that we can only discuss these things on blogs like this, and not get anything done about it though. With all these cuts that the new coalition is promising maybe there will be more fiscal accountability in the NHS over things like this - but we can't expect any changes on the moral ground though, this would be expecting far too much.

Good to see you back and blogging anyways.

7 June 2010 at 14:03  
Anonymous Budgie said...

TheGlovner said: "Budgie, "Why do you feel every unborn child should die by your views?" A rather childish statement."

No, it gets to the root of the issue.

The pro-abortionist claims abortion is a matter only of the mother's rights over her own body. The anti-abortionist claims abortion involves the death of another, unique DNA, living human being.

That's the difference. There are, I am afraid, no half way houses.

7 June 2010 at 14:17  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

How very black and white your easy world must be.

Unfortunately for you most other people see the world in shades of grey.

Again though your orginal childish statement is still a long way from the reality of the situation.

Your two statements don't even fit together:

"Why do you feel every unborn child should die by your views"

"The pro-abortionist claims abortion is a matter only of the mother's rights over her own body."

So if the abortion is a matter only for the mother to decide then clearly I don't think that every unborn child should die by my views.

Again, a childish statement to make.

7 June 2010 at 14:25  
Blogger English Viking said...

TheGlovner,

Ahh, the 'grey area' thing.

Killing unborn children is wrong. Simple as that.

7 June 2010 at 14:35  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I too find this barbaric. It's a reflection of our current throwaway, shallow as a puddle society.
With abortion currently being promoted so heavily they are encouraged even more to throw it away if they go off the idea. I would charge those who abort IVF babies fixed penalty fines of £2000 as well as the full cost of the abortion. It's more or less the cost of a Mulberry handbag.

Why are girls aged 18 to 25 allowed to have IVF anyway? At that age surely there is a chance that they could conceive naturally and if not there probably is a good reason why they cannot, inferior quality genes or they would make lousy mothers and the fact that they go on to abort the IVF foetus later on just proves this. Those who cannot have children and want them should have to adopt or pay for the full treatment themselves and should not be allowed to undergo IVF until they are at least 26 and have been trying for several years. The decision to have a child should not be made as lightly as the one to buy a pair of Jimmy Choo's

Not being able to have a child is God's/natures way of population control.

7 June 2010 at 14:39  
Blogger Bryan said...

What then is the NHS for, if not to service the whims of the productive and terminate those who are no longer so.

7 June 2010 at 14:39  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Fat Hen has it just about right.

Few people are in favour of abortion, most are simply opposed to it being outlawed. If you avoid the absolutist position then it is all about the lesser of “evils”. I imagine the majority of abortions are sought by young women who have had unprotected sex. The only way to lessen this is to ensure that they have full contraceptive advice, for parents to discuss sex openly and instil a sense of personal responsibility in their kids.

In addition to the problem of abortion there should also be a disincentive for having children too young or without the means to independently support them and this can be engineered to an extent through the tax and benefits system.

Having children is (or should be) the most important step that we take and we should be prepared for it emotionally and financially. But life is messy, “things happen” and society should be flexible enough to tolerate mistakes and not demonise or outlaw women for whom abortion really is the only option.

Budgie said...
That's the difference. There are, I am afraid, no half way houses.

Yes there is my friend. Just think for a moment about the effect of criminalising all abortions; women dieing as they had done for centuries at the hands of back street abortionists, is that what you really want? The world will never be as cut and dried as you would wish it, we have to live with compromise.

Marie 1797
Not being able to have a child is God's/natures way of population control.

You cannot be serious!!!!!!!!!!!!

7 June 2010 at 14:43  
Anonymous Simon said...

At that age surely there is a chance that they could conceive naturally and if not there probably is a good reason why they cannot, inferior quality genes or they would make lousy mothers and the fact that they go on to abort the IVF foetus later on just proves this.

Inferior quality genes? What are you on about? You clearly have zero understanding of Human Genetics. I know it's rather invoking Godwin, but the 20th Century saw a number of men who shared your views on "inferior genes". They were responsible for the deaths of upward of 100 million people. I though Christianity was supposed to make you compassionate.

I'm not pro-abortion; each one is a tragedy for all concerned, but I am pro-choice. As I don't subscribe to any religious dogma, I believe a Woman's right over her own body is paramount. In this instance though, HG is correct. We should not be paying for IVF babies to be aborted other than in very very exceptional medical/social circumstances.

7 June 2010 at 14:56  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Gnostic at 08.18 - I share your thoughts entirely on this one.


Your Grace, are all of these women guilty of a mere 'change of mind'; or have some been advised against the continuation of the pregnancy, for some medical reason? If not; then it truly does beggar belief

7 June 2010 at 15:28  
Anonymous Budgie said...

TheGlovner said: "So if the abortion is a matter only for the mother to decide then clearly I don't think that every unborn child should die by my views."

No, I said that "The pro-abortionist claims abortion is a matter only of the mother's rights over her own body."

Therefore, if you give, by your views, the mother that right (something the 1967 Act does not do), then as a matter of principle every, or any, unborn child may die by your views. You may hope or wish that that does not occur, but by definition you have not put anything in the way of it happening.

7 June 2010 at 15:44  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Graham Davis said: "The world will never be as cut and dried as you would wish it, we have to live with compromise." and TheGlovner said: " How very black and white your easy world must be."

Perhaps if either of you can explain how you could half abort, or "grey" abort an unborn child, you might have a point.

There are no easy ways out. No-one can hide behind hand-wringing "grey" areas on this one. There really are no half way houses: you either abort or you don't. And there are onerous consequences in either case.

7 June 2010 at 15:57  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Budgie, you are a sensationalist, a fool and you are changing your position.

First of all you said that I would wish all unborn children to die by my views.

Now you are saying that they may all die by my views even although I may not wish it.

In relation to the article I certainly don't agree with people being given abortions on the NHS after being given fertility treatment on the NHS, but there are far more shades in the world than your blinkered vision will allow you to see.

Now back to you and your liberal use of language, using the terminology of "pro-abortionist" is a misleading trick of words and I'm sure you know it.

I don't advocate people going out and having abortions, but I don't seek to take away a persons choice and have them live by my own personal views.

Just like trying to give the "anti-choice" group a nicer sounding description by using the term "pro-life". Almost everyone is "pro-life", I and others don't go about promoting murder. At the very least you could consider yourself "pro-life for unborn babies at the expense of almost anyone else".

It is somewhat amusing that a large percentage of "pro-life" groups in the US are death penalty supporting republicans. And others find it quite acceptable to murder a doctor who has carried out abortions but then give themselves the tag of "pro-life".

7 June 2010 at 16:11  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Budgie

"Perhaps if either of you can explain how you could half abort, or "grey" abort an unborn child, you might have a point."

As well as using word play to try and lend weight to your argument you are now being purposely obtuse which only serves to make you look even more childish.

7 June 2010 at 16:13  
Anonymous Fat Hen said...

Someone asked: why do young women need IVF procedures?

Well, they might not but their partner does, the male sperm count of even young men is crashing through the floor, plus there are a plethora of other valid reasons, all of them medical. Age is only one factor in conception difficulties.

Let's just say that IVF as an optional hobby is not a reality, you may as well wonder why we repair cleft palates or put cochlear implants.

Why does IVF abortion happen?

Apart from there occurring accidents with too many fetuses that would all die if not selectively aborted,
IVF is an incredibly stressful procedure that often causes serious relationship difficulties due to the nasty side effect of the drugs.

To those that want to stop people from procreating because 'God decided so', I hope you will decline all medical assistance in future, because 'God decided that you should be sick' and thus free up some NHS time for the (ahem) more deserving as chosen by your God.

Also, consider for yourself whether your personal stance about your God's purported opinion is not actually another form of selective abortion, since your bigotted opinion could prevent life from occurring that would otherwise have happened.

Ps.: I'm a staunch Atheist, and I cannot believe that as a pro-abortion supporter I have to argue the case for creating and protecting life on his Grace's blog. We truly live in insane times...

7 June 2010 at 16:15  
Blogger Fausty said...

If the NHS is to make any cuts, surely it should be in IVF. Having a child is not a 'right'.

Scrigg said: we can only discuss these things on blogs like this

For how much longer? We have yet to test Cam's civil liberties claim. Rarely does a law which originates in the US not travel to the UK - and vice versa.

7 June 2010 at 16:18  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Fausty - indeed, it is a privilege to be able to share views, and to debate, on such a subject; allowing even for the delicate sensibilities of contrary and oftentimes violently disparate opinion.

Without such a forum we would be bereft of considered opinion...and all would be the worse for it.

7 June 2010 at 16:48  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Budgie, its the morality that is not cut and dried

7 June 2010 at 16:54  
Blogger William said...

"its the morality that is not cut and dried"

Bravo Graham Davis. The first rational statement from a pro-abortionist on this thread. When morals are relative abortion can always be justified. A prospective lifestyle can be put before a prospective life. The "paramount rights" that a woman has over her body (whatever that means) before a human's right to be born.

7 June 2010 at 17:38  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

To be just morals must always be relative, there is no absolute “right and wrong” unless off course you subscribe to particular religion in which case you are subject to the tyranny of a god that you have invented, not a satisfactory basis for a humane society.

If you had read my comments you would see that I am not “pro abortion”.

7 June 2010 at 17:47  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

"There is nothing so foolish that some philosopher has not said it, and there is nothing so evil that some bioethicist has not proposed it." — Anthony Daniels
More

7 June 2010 at 17:55  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

NHS Should be reserved necessaty, choice is a private matter, I would rather see more NHS money going to dentistry, for poor, skint sods suffering tooth ache. Than transgender jailbirds or barren desperados. If savings must be made, lets cut the crap.

7 June 2010 at 17:59  
Blogger William said...

"If you had read my comments you would see that I am not “pro abortion”."

I thought your view was that there are situations when an abortion is the best possible outcome? e.g. so as not "demonise or outlaw women for whom abortion really is the only option.". Surely you would be "pro abortion" in that situation? Whether you put it in quotes or not.

7 June 2010 at 18:02  
Blogger English Viking said...

Graham Davis,

A moral is no such thing if it is relative. Then it is merely an expedient opinion.

7 June 2010 at 18:33  
Anonymous invincibly ignorant said...

Wonderful...and now we must wait while Graham Davis frantically thumbs through his, by now, very tatty copy of 'Atheism for dummies' for an appropriate response to William and the English Viking...
How exciting

7 June 2010 at 19:20  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

The problem with IVF is that many healthy children are killed in its process. Adding one more causes irritations fiscally and reflects a view that life pre-birth is worthless; however it is no more evil than the deaths of every other child created.

Bred in the Bone didn't sign his name at the end, but I agree with whoever it was. The NHS is one of the biggest employers in the world and is one of the largest (if not 'the' largest) public expenditures.

We can cut a lot of nonsense from the NHS

Gender Reassignment cut
IVF cut
Abortion cut
Alcohol related injuries (issuing a charge to anyone 2x driving limit at A&E)
Non-reconstructive cosmetic surgery cut
Increasing NICE restrictions (drug rationing) in order to push down prices.
etc.

7 June 2010 at 19:28  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Budgie said: ,Gnostic said: "Your Grace, I am not pro-abortionist but I am pro-choice. I do not claim the moral high ground by forcing my views on someone else."

Yes you do - by forcing abortion on a living, growing unborn human child.


What utter tripe. I don't force anyone to have an abortion. They make that decision for themselves, for whatever reason. I am not their living conscience. It is not my place to tell them what they can or cannot do. It's not yours either.

7 June 2010 at 21:03  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Graham Davis said ... "there is no absolute “right and wrong” unless off course you subscribe to particular religion in which case you are subject to the tyranny of a god that you have invented"

Do you consider it absolutely wrong to believe that there is absolute right or wrong? On whose authority are you making such a claim?

I did not invent the God I follow. If I could make up my own higher authority - as you obviously do - then He would instruct me to hate my enemies, to do to others what they've done to me, permit me to lust & fornicate, and basically live according to my own expedience.

Back on topic ... by it's very nature, IVF makes children into commodities. They are demanded, created, chosen, implanted and then - it would appear - chosen or rejected again. It is the narcissistic conclusion of a "woman's right to choose".

7 June 2010 at 21:46  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Tyranny: The gaining of power via unconstitutional means

God: Benevolent creator of the Universe; omnipotent and omniscient.

Hmmm... I think that considering as the Universe doesn't have a constitution, and considering that the first being to exist (doing so in a begotten manner) was God, I have to say that a tyrannical God is physically impossible. Perhaps there is an argument that Kronus was a tyrant, but the Christian God can most certainly not be.

Proof in logical absolutes by contradiction: 'There are no logical absolutes' is a logical absolute.

Proof that morality is relative to an absolute:

If all morality is relative, I have only to ask to what it is relative and I have you stumped.
Is it relative to the man? If so then any behaviour is justifiable as long as you believe it is in your moral code. Psychopaths would have free-rain as they feel no guilt.
Is it relative to society? If so, then the executions of homosexuals in the middle east must be perfectly acceptable. You cannot say that the actions of another society are immoral simply because that is what our society believes.
Is it relative to a fixed point? If so then we have found unchanging moral absolutes.

To say that morality is relative is to say that some actions are more moral than others. If so then either there is a fixed point of maximum morality, at which one cannot say 'I can think of a more moral action than that' or there is an infinite regress. If so, then the point of infinite morality should surely be a God of some sort.

So is morality must be relative to an absolute. I call it God, you will have to find your own name for it.

7 June 2010 at 23:13  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Mr Lakester91,

I am with you on your disavowal of moral relativism (the heretical oxymoron that is destroying the modern west), but the answer to your question what is morality relative to is itself.

Surely, with respect, the question is how can it be moral if it's relative? Moral implies a rule, a fixed thing, that is as immutable as the law of gravity. Moral relativism means no morality at all.

7 June 2010 at 23:26  
Anonymous len said...

Social activists, abortion advocates, embryonic stem cell research proponents, genetic engineering supporters demand a view of human life in the womb that removes moral responsibility and guilt for the termination of unborn human life. (1.3 million annually in America; about 42 million worldwide each year)

7 June 2010 at 23:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed the sudden dissapearance of Jared Gaites? After reading one of His Grace's old posts and clicking on Jaired Gaites name's hyperlink it comes up with Scrigg page. Suspicious. Scrigg are you really Mr Gaites in disguise?

8 June 2010 at 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

Bred in the Bone said: "I would rather see more NHS money going to dentistry". To British dentists? You have to be joking, they're the worst. I can't be their only victim, and they've caused me more toothache than they cured. At least two of them have been sufficiently arrogant to indicate to me that they do it on purpose, if only to keep the patients coming back (private or NHS)!
________________
Anonymous said: "Scrigg are you really Mr Gaites in disguise?" I think he's the same person, but not in disguise. He posted a condolence as Simon Charles RIGG.

8 June 2010 at 01:32  
Anonymous Anonymous 3 said...

@ Anonymous one and 2: I say Scrigg could be in just one disguise, several, or none. Who really cares, except for him?

Your Grace, thank you for coming back to us so soon.

8 June 2010 at 01:49  
Blogger William said...

Anons

If he walks like a duck and talks like a duck ...

8 June 2010 at 07:01  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

The absolutist morality asserts that there is a fixed dividing line between right and wrong. However this view fails even the simplest of tests, for example; “thou shalt not kill” seems fair enough until you consider a situation where your child is being held by a kidnapper who is threatening to kill it. Would it not be entirely reasonable for you to kill the kidnapper and save your child? That is relativist morality, it recognises that actions can only be judged to be moral or immoral in the context in which they occur.

If you then add belief in a religious doctrine to an absolutist position it soon becomes tyranny. In Islam the apostate should be killed, it says so in the Quran and that is the word of God as dictated to Mohammed, so no ambiguity there! But wait I hear you say, Islam is not the “true” religion, mine is. Perhaps you worship Mithras or Thor or maybe Ancestor worship is your thing. No of course not they are all silly, you are Christians but unfortunately you can’t even agree on that.

So why should your Christian moral authority be taken seriously? The answer of course is that it shouldn’t. I am sure that you don’t think that humankind had no cognisance of moral behaviour before the advent of Christianity, if that were the case it would not have survived.

Abortion is a horrible act but it is sometimes the lesser of “evils” so you cannot say that in every circumstance it is morally wrong. That each of us should consider the implication of our actions is fundamental to a moral society. The vast majority of us know how we should behave towards our fellow man, we learn it first within our family, then within the wider society and it has been codified into laws and customs that reward those who try to do good and punish those who do bad.

Even if he actually existed you simply don’t need God to be good.

8 June 2010 at 09:20  
Blogger Richard.K.Halliday said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8 June 2010 at 10:08  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis said...
" Would it not be entirely reasonable for you to kill the kidnapper and save your child? That is relativist morality."

Graham: The correct ethical axiom is "thou shalt not murder". Killing in self defense is not murder. This is not an example of ethical relativism.

8 June 2010 at 13:14  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis also said...
Abortion is a horrible act but it is sometimes the lesser of “evils”

Graham: I don't see when. Please explain. Also, would you also consider contraception as a horrible act given that oral contraceptives, can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg?

8 June 2010 at 13:24  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI Can you give me an example of what you consider to be a moral absolute?

Example of an unambiguous case for abortion:
A woman is raped
The rapist is HIV positive
She has medical condition that means the birth of her baby may kill her

8 June 2010 at 15:55  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Graham Davis,

'A woman is raped'

There are more arguments for keeping the baby at this point. Allowing something good to come out of something bad; abortion exacerbating the guilt felt; adoption if all else fails.

'The rapist is HIV positive'

Why does this affect anything? Are you saying that, as there is a small chance of the mother and child contracting the infection, then he (the child) should be killed? Is being HIV positive a case for the worthlessness of life?

'She has medical condition that means the birth of her baby may kill her'

A treatment which has the double effect of killing the child but saving the mother is morally grey and I am uncertain of whether it is morally justified or not. Taking an innocent life to save an innocent life is always wrong. The ends don't justify the means. Modern medicine was practically invented during the Second World War, but the at the cost of millions of unwilling test subjects.

8 June 2010 at 17:40  
Anonymous len said...

You don`t need God to be good?
What do you need then?
What do you measure goodness by?
The nazi`s thought they were doing a good job,so did Stalin , so did pol pot
What do you measure goodness by Mr Davis?

8 June 2010 at 19:28  
Anonymous len said...

It seems ridiculous to me that fallen man should make up his own moral code or law.
Any law or moral code that fallen man makes up will be in line with his fallen condition.
Every man would have his own view of what he considered appropriate behaviour.
Any law to be appropriate and effective for everyone can only come from a perfect being,God Himself.

Of course fallen man will not like that Divine law because it exposes sin(everything that falls short of divine law)

8 June 2010 at 20:38  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis

Can you explain what is your basis for establishing that this is an "unambiguous case" for abortion?

and

Why is your basis for establishing the case for "unambiguous abortion" better than, say, someone who thinks that abortion should be provided on demand?

8 June 2010 at 21:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must agree that "having children is truly not a human right", and we should note that it is a
God-given command, see, Genesis 1.18:-
God blessed them, saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth.'
brgds
Peter Melia

8 June 2010 at 22:47  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis said...
"A woman is raped ..."

Let me add a few remarks to Lakester91's excellent comment on this subject.

Rape is precisely the emotional wedge excuse which judicial activists used in the infamous "Roe versus Wade" trial to gain a legal foothold for the practice of abortion, in the process extending its reach to the end of the third trimester. In fact (see pennance.us/?p=50), the UN Committee on Human Rights, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) all continue to use this exact issue as part of a systematic strategy to legalize abortion throughout all of Latin America.

From an ethical perspective, our very real sympathy for the plight of the mother should not override the requirement to take into consideration serious consequences that follow from a weakening of the fundamental moral axioms protecting human life. In particular, the right to life of the child who is aborted should take precedence over the very real distress of the woman who suffers the tragedy of rape. A complete regard for a woman's emotional health would also take into consideration the pernicious long term effects of abortion. Evidence from a variety of studies strongly suggests that abortion does not improve mental health, but, rather leaves in its wake a trail of mental illness, behavioral problems, elevated suicide rates and increased mortality. That thousands, maybe millions of women worldwide are suffering from some degree of Post-Abortion Syndrome, even decades after their abortion, is attested to by the existence of organizations such as Rachel's Vineyard (www.rachelsvineyard.org/) which provide help and counseling to sufferers.

In summary, the denial, say, of abortion or of abortifacient contraception may undoubtedly be emotionally distressful for the woman concerned. However, this denial is necessary to preserve the life of the child; to promote the long term physical and mental health of the mother; and, to guard against the gradual erosion of fundamental ethical principles which, ultimately, safeguard all our lives.

8 June 2010 at 23:21  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

I think we have exhausted the rape issue, I have stated my position.

Can anyone give me an example of what you consider to be a moral absolute (other than abortion)?

9 June 2010 at 09:03  
Anonymous len said...

Gods Moral law is for man`s good.Man cannot make moral laws because of his fallen condition.
.............
The Absolute Ethics of Christianity
Christianity maintains that universal good cannot come from man, a finite and fallible being. It must come from a transcendent source (from beyond mankind). As the philosopher Wittgenstein said:

‘The sense of the world must lie outside the world … ethics is transcendental’
Christian ethics are therefore based upon the nature of God, and in particular on:

The statement of Jesus; ‘I am the way, and the truth …’ (Jn 14.6)
An authority higher than man, as revealed in Jesus and the inspired scriptures
The absolute moral standard of a Creator God
The belief that God’s moral standard is timeless and is for man's well-being
This ethical view escapes the problems of cultural relativism. It presupposes that God exists and has revealed absolute standards. It maintains that these standards are compatible with His creation and are true and correct. They are the handbook for life. An obvious example is the Ten Commandments. Prior to the mid 19th century it was generally accepted that absolute truth (with a capital ‘T’ ) existed and that this was indeed transcendent. During the 20th century this belief was largely replaced by truth with a small ‘t’, as determined by man himself (Naturalism). This is rationalism and empiricism i.e. man’s ability to reason and conduct scientific investigation. This ‘information’ approach is limited since it cannot tell us what to do - it simply collects facts and tries to establish laws fitting the facts. Postmodernism then emerged after WW2 and claimed that there is no truth, and that all we can hope to do is to instil meaning into life through our own interpretation.

When man departs from Gods standard he starts on a downhill slide constantly adjusting and re-adjusting his 'morals' because he has no guidelines and noway of assessing the results of his actions.
This will lead in a downward spiral leading to chaos.

10 June 2010 at 00:27  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

"I have stated my position"—Graham Davis

In a previous thread I cited serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who said:

"If a person doesn't think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what's the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That's how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there was nothing‚..." (Dateline NBC, The Final Interview, Nov. 29, 1994).

Here is a quote from another well known relativist, the dictator Adolf Hitler:

“We are now at the outset of a tremendous revolution in moral ideas and in men’s spiritual orientation… There is no truth, either in the moral or in the scientific sense. The idea of free and unfettered science is absurd. Science is a social phenomenon, and like every other social phenomenon is limited by the benefit or injury it confers on the community. The slogan of objective science has been coined by the professorate simply in order to escape from the very necessarily that there can only be the science of a particular type of humanity and of a particular age.” [Emphasis added] (Rauschning, 1940)

As other communicants have correctly pointed out, all forms of relativism are logically contradictory. The above examples provide practical examples of the dangers of relativistic ethics. As psychologist William Coulson has pointed out:

"When any person is convinced that all authority for conduct lies within himself – that one decision or conclusion is as good as another – the inevitable result is rebellion against authority and deterioration of moral conduct.”

10 June 2010 at 01:11  
Blogger William said...

Graham Davis

It's time for you to fully embrace your nihilism (as Jeffrey Dahmer did). To realise that you are not, in fact, on the way to oblivion, but are already a part of oblivion - a mere fluctuation in the space-time continuum.

Then you will you be able to reject that hypothesis, by acknowledging your humanity, turn around and start to seek God. You will find him in a poor, Palestinian carpenter's son. Surely only God would think of revealing himself like that!

Hint1: Love is the key.

Hint2: Be careful of religion. It often gets in the way.

10 June 2010 at 09:10  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Can anyone give me an example of what you consider to be a moral absolute (other than abortion)?

I am still waiting!

10 June 2010 at 09:32  
Blogger William said...

Hint3: You will have to stop waiting and start seeking.

10 June 2010 at 10:22  
Blogger William said...

Hint4: You may have to resign from the NSS Cambridge branch. Probably a blessing anyway.

10 June 2010 at 10:42  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

Example of a moral absolute????

Not even one!

10 June 2010 at 10:54  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis

Since you asked.

Any moral that comes from God is absolute.

Here's one:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."

i.e. don't make anything else to be your god (not even national secularism). To do so would be unequivocally (or you would say unambiguously) harmful to yourself and probably others. There is only one God.

10 June 2010 at 11:18  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

Forget the sales pitch, I am asking for an act that you say is a moral absolute, for example is it always wrong to steal?

10 June 2010 at 11:33  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis

You asked for a moral absolute. I gave you one. You called it a sales pitch. Is this your idea of seeking?

Morals are not just about acts, they include motives. It seems that God is more interested in our motives than our actions, and as all moral absolutes come from God ...

10 June 2010 at 12:08  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Muhammad Ali would be jealous of your ability to duck any questions asked, although your ability to sting like a bee seems to lack somewhat.

10 June 2010 at 13:02  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

TheGlovner is right and the problem with most believers is that they cannot subject their own belief to rational scrutiny and when asked a straight forward question, they fail to provide an answer.

William is typical, he is simply convinced by the authenticity of his religion that he cannot enter a serious debate that challenges it.

10 June 2010 at 13:39  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Graham Davis and TheGlovner, if you actually want to know about moral absolutes read "The Abolition of Man" by C S Lewis (mine is Fount Paperbacks). It is definitely not a 'religious' book, and is only about 60 pages.

On the Way:
"Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasure of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own natural impulses."

"A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery."

On subjective morals:
"From propositions about fact alone no practical conclusion can ever be drawn."

"The Innovator [of 'new' morals] is trying to get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of premises in the indicative mood: and though he continues trying to all eternity he cannot succeed, for the thing is impossible."
(all quotes C S Lewis).

10 June 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger William said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 June 2010 at 14:22  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Thank you Budgie, that is some background but please now a specific example that we can chew on.

In order to help I say that “you should not steal” is a not an absolute value as we can all think of circumstances when stealing would be acceptable. It is therefore a relative value that is totally dependant on context.

An absolute value please?

10 June 2010 at 14:28  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Just to clarify the point I think so we don't waste any more time ducking and diving the issue.

“you should not steal”

Cannot be considered an absolute due to the presence of the word "should" which allows for interpretation based on context.

e.g. You really shouldn't steal but....

So better we use the religious interpretation I think in order not to confuse matters.

You shall not steal

or

Thou shalt not steal

These are absolute statements.

10 June 2010 at 15:00  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis says:

"the problem with most believers is that they cannot subject their own belief to rational scrutiny and when asked a straight forward question, they fail to provide an answer."

If I may borrow one of his replies to many straight forward questions put to him in this thread:

"I think we have exhausted the moral absolutes issue. I have stated my position."

How's that for an answer to rational scrutiny?

10 June 2010 at 15:08  
Anonymous Budgie said...

No, Graham Davies, it is not "some background" just as William's answer was not a "sales pitch". You do not want a "specific example that we can chew on", you want a specific example you can chew to bits.

"The Master said: He who sets to work on a different strand destroys the whole fabric" - Confucious, Analects II.16 - quoted in The Abolition of Man.

You are asking the wrong question, or at least from the wrong position - outside the Tao. Read the book. The quotes from the Abolition of Man apply to you (and to me). You are the "Innovator" - produce the justification for your 'new' morals without reference to any absolutes. If you manage, you will be the first.

10 June 2010 at 15:16  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Duck and weave, duck and weave.

10 June 2010 at 15:29  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

My purpose in pursuing this is to demonstrate that it is impossible for even William and Budgie to hold an absolute moral position. They clearly accept that every moral position is relative, ie that it has to be judged by the context in which it takes place.

They are in fact humanists despite overlaying their moral sensibilities with lots of mumbo jumbo. So in future please don’t denigrate moral relativism.

TheGlovner. You are quite right about “should”.

10 June 2010 at 15:37  
Blogger William said...

"it is impossible for even William and Budgie to hold an absolute moral position."

Do not make a god of anything other than God is an absolute moral position.

"They clearly accept that every moral position is relative",

Clearly I do not.

ie that it has to be judged by the context in which it takes place."

I believe the judgement (when it comes) will include the motives not the context.

"So in future please don’t denigrate moral relativism."

Moral relativism (i.e. there are no moral absolutes) is an oxymoron. It is an attempt to establish meaning in a godless universe. I quite understand why you wouldn't want it denigrated. Unfortunately it violates the absolute moral position mentioned above.

10 June 2010 at 17:45  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"I believe the judgement (when it comes) will include the motives not the context."

Well if that isn't a prime example of double speak.

Context is the surroundings, circumstances, environment, background, or settings which determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an event.

Motive: In law, especially criminal law, a motive is the cause that moves people to induce a certain action. An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.

I don't believe in the colour pink I only believe in a mixture of red and white.

Duck and weave, duck and weave.

10 June 2010 at 18:20  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

So let me try and piece together the half points and eluded suggestions from the conversation here.

Essentially there are moral absolutes, however these moral absolutes work for example by stating you must never kill. After you have stated the absolute then when challenged you can add a caveat to the absolute to say that it is allowable to kill in this agreed list of situations which you feel a god you cannot prove exists and which you have never had the discussion with will forgive in this list of agreed situations. Although this now makes the original position of the moral absolute a relative moral this imperfection to the belief of a moral absolute will just be glossed over and ignored regardless of how large an elephant it becomes and how small the room around it shrinks too. The agreed list of situations where the moral absolute can become a relative moral while still being called a moral absolute will be decided in line with the beliefs or your particular religious/social group therefore not only do the moral absolutes become relative absolutes but in a wider context they become subjective relative morals. But again these facts can be glossed over becuase no matter how other social or religious groups want to claim their version of a moral code is correct they don't lay claim to the same god as me which we have established earlier I cannot prove and although this is the same level of proof other religions can show for theirs mines is still right because I believe really really hard that it's true.

And therefore my morals are absolute.

I think that covers it.

10 June 2010 at 18:33  
Anonymous Budgie said...

"My purpose in pursuing this is to demonstrate ..."
Yet you haven't.

"... that it is impossible for even William and Budgie to hold an absolute moral position."
I am unconvinced you know what you are saying there. Of course it is impossible for a human being to "hold an absolute moral position" because we are all fallible.

"They clearly accept that every moral position is relative, ie that it has to be judged by the context in which it takes place."
A moral system cannot be relativistic because it would not be morals, merely an opinion. There have to be absolutes otherwise there is nothing to measure ourselves by; that includes trying to invent 'new' morals. ("Either we ... obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature [at the mercy of] masters who ... have no motive but their own natural impulses." - C S Lewis - my mods). This moral system is not of course "mine" otherwise it would not be absolute.

10 June 2010 at 18:46  
Blogger William said...

TheGlovner

Perhaps motivation would be a better word. Motive may be too legalistic. However, it's not clear to me why you would think that context and motive are the same thing. Unless you believe that we are all just machines responding directly to our environment?

10 June 2010 at 19:02  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Theft is never justified
Murder is never justified
Euthanasia is never justified
Adultery is never justified
Hate is never justified
Lust is never justified
Avarice is never justified
Gluttony is never justified

Just because you can think of a situation where any of these is used to prevent a greater evil, does not mean that it is not immoral itself. If I could travel in time and kill Hitler or Stalin or Mao, then I wouldn't. It is not my place to judge on the value of those men's lives, and it is not yours either.

10 June 2010 at 19:06  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

However, it's not clear to me why you would think that context and motive are the same thing.

I don't, I think motive is just a smaller part of the overall context of a situation.

Which is why I find it strange that you believe the motive would be taken into account but the context wouldn't.

10 June 2010 at 19:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is a (not-so-)subtle plot afoot to inculcate us all with subliminal messages about the illiterate man to whom Allah chose to reveal the greatest book ever written."
The epistle of Peter?
Mein Kampf?

10 June 2010 at 19:50  
Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

The Constitution of the euSSR?

10 June 2010 at 20:51  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Lakester91 said...
Theft is never justified

I am destitute and my child is dieing of starvation and I steal some food from a man who has plenty.

In your book I should leave my child to die and then congratulate myself on my moral righteousness?

What kind of morality is that?

11 June 2010 at 10:45  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis: You have partially answered his own question about moral absolutes in a previous post when he said: "That each of us should consider the implication of our actions is fundamental to a moral society." You even agreed that "abortion is a horrible act." If ethics were relative, neither assertion would make sense. Both depend on the acceptance of at least one objective, universal, norm. Regarding stealing: there are some practices that are objectively, intrinsically, wrong. That intentions and circumstances may aggravate or mitigate the wrongfulness of an act in no way means that ethics is relative. Quite the contrary, examining an act in terms of its object, its intention, and circumstances allows a better moral judgment. Implicit in your position about stealing to feed your starving child is the standard that stealing is objectively wrong, but that the intention and circumstances surrounding the act make it less so than, say, stealing from the starving child. Thus, this does not prove that ethics is relative but that it is complex--reaching the right moral judgment requires systematic thought and discernment.

11 June 2010 at 17:20  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Graham Davis - Excellent, I think you are nearly there. Now all you have to do is take one step back and examine your own judgment of the situation you outlined above.

Your righteous indignation ("What kind of morality is that?") is an appeal to a notion of "Good" that must be (approximately) universal and must also be external to you (and to me). Otherwise you would appeal in vain to me (for, without the Tao, I could reply: No, I have plenty and my child thrives).

This is what C S Lewis meant when he said we must: "obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else .. be kneaded [by] .. [merely] natural impulses."

As Lewis says elsewhere "... in the last resort they [moral innovators] would have to admit that some state of affairs was .. good for its own sake."

11 June 2010 at 18:55  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...
Regarding stealing: there are some practices that are objectively, intrinsically, wrong. That intentions and circumstances may aggravate or mitigate the wrongfulness of an act in no way means that ethics is relative.

I disagree, no humane moral system can separate the wrongfulness of an act from the context. It is pointless to assert that stealing is wrong (absolute) if we agree that there are situations when it is not.

Implicit in your position about stealing to feed your starving child is the standard that stealing is objectively wrong, but that the intention and circumstances surrounding the act make it less so

We can agree that it is undesirable or even wrong if you like, but wrong doesn’t have an absolute black and white value. Rightness and wrongness are on a spectrum, not either side of a line.


Budgie said...
Your righteous indignation ("What kind of morality is that?") is an appeal to a notion of "Good" that must be (approximately) universal and must also be external to you (and to me).

This is the crux of the matter. I agree that there is a universal understanding of morality but that does not mean that is external any more than laughing is. Both are universally recognised because they have evolved as a characteristic of our species and they only continue because they have proved successful.

Morality may have a genetic component (I do not have the knowledge to venture an opinion) but it is certainly a cultural meme that is passed on through families. All of us who have raised children have seen it in action and have been active participants. The new born is an entirely selfish creature, it has to be but as it grows into a toddler it begins to understand that others too have competing demands (rights) and so when a child snatches a toy from a sibling the parent intervenes and boundaries are quickly established.

This is reinforced by our innate response to others pain. Empathy is certainly hard wired and as the child grows it understands that it must sometimes share or even give up what it wants. These are universal human characteristics and are found as much in primitive as in advanced societies.

It seems to me that the assertion that morality is God given derives from a need that some people have for the continuance of an external authority that was initially established by their parents. It continues to amaze me that some people think that without the “restraining” influence of faith in God people would simply run amok.

12 June 2010 at 11:42  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

GD,

In what kind of situation would stealing bread be necessary?

If there is famine, then you are stealing from someone else who is starving. It does not even matter whether the owner has plenty of food or not. It is his sin if he refuses to give you food when you ask.

If there is plenty of food, but you have no money, then you need to humble yourself and beg for food.

Either way, theft is immoral. You have created a situation that has the appearance of moral justification, but is not.

Would you like to have your food stolen in order to feed someone starving? If the answer is that you wouldn't mind (which I'm sure it is), then surely you would give it to him if he asked.

'Morality may have a genetic component (I do not have the knowledge to venture an opinion) but it is certainly a cultural meme that is passed on through families.'

I'm afraid there's no such thing as memes. Prof. Dawkins invented it to explain away religion, but psychologists and sociologists just laughed at his simplicity.

'It seems to me that the assertion that morality is God given derives from a need that some people have for the continuance of an external authority that was initially established by their parents.'

I have never met a Christian who acts morally due to fear. Morality indeed comes from God, but one does not have to believe in him to act objectively moral. The only people who believe that that is the Christian belief are most certainly not Christians.

'It continues to amaze me that some people think that without the “restraining” influence of faith in God people would simply run amok.'

In case you wanted to know, Christians act morally because of love. Love of God and love of man. There is no restraint other than self-restraint. Christianity has no laws or musts regarding anything other than morality. Even then, breaking these laws is only punished by God and only if one is unrepentant.

It seems that your view of Christianity is that it is heavily restraining, yet our is that it is liberating. We see that we can be made free of sin and you prefer to pretend that sin doesn't exist. Indeed if morality is relative or contextual, then it does not exist as there is no basis for its existence. If you don't believe in God, then you cannot believe in morality. It would be such a nice thing to believe that there is no sin if it were true. We only have roughly 80 years on this planet and it is far easier to be selfish than selfless.

12 June 2010 at 13:24  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Lakestar said...

In what kind of situation would stealing bread be necessary?

I gave an example at 11 June 2010 10:45

A meme is simply a unit of culturally rather than genetically transmitted behaviour. Call it something else if you don’t like Dawkins terminology.

Indeed if morality is relative or contextual, then it does not exist as there is no basis for its existence. If you don't believe in God, then you cannot believe in morality.

There is no logic to those statements they are simply assertions from a man who is not prepared to subject his belief to the cold light of rational thought. That is the religious mindset, faith in myths for which there is no evidence and that are kept behind a firewall in order to keep reason at bay.

12 June 2010 at 14:48  
Blogger William said...

It's often interesting the lengths that atheists are prepared to go. Searching around for justifications for theft is common. But abortion must be the ultimate achievement for the moral relativist.

Mr Davis are you not amazed at the level of immorality that you are prepared to defend in order to deny the existence of God?

12 June 2010 at 16:58  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Michael your response is typical, rather than challenge the arguments that I put forward, for example the origin of moral behaviour in a world without God, you fall back on the accusation that I must be immoral, extraordinary!

12 June 2010 at 17:50  
Blogger William said...

There is no moral behaviour without God. There is only behaviour.

Theft is immoral.

Abortion is immoral.

My name is William.

12 June 2010 at 18:18  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

'In what kind of situation would stealing bread be necessary?

I gave an example at 11 June 2010 10:45'

Then I riposted your point. Please respond to that rather than the first sentence.

'A meme is simply a unit of culturally rather than genetically transmitted behaviour. Call it something else if you don’t like Dawkins terminology.'

No, the idea was laughed at by sociologists because it is overly simplistic and does not correspond with empirical evidence.

'There is no logic to those statements they are simply assertions from a man who is not prepared to subject his belief to the cold light of rational thought.'

Your rational thought? Please tell me where that is, I'd like to have a look at it. I have responded to your posts before using logic and scientific truths and you have dismissed them without answering the questions which they raise. That is irrational. It is irrational to believe that morality can be relative but isn't relative TO anything. If morality is genetic then we can ignore it for our own gain. If it is cultural then we may not judge others for they're infractions of our morality.

If morality is relative. It MUST be relative to an absolute. That is simply a logical truth. If it is not relative to an absolute, then ALL morality is equal, which means there is no point in its existence.

'That is the religious mindset, faith in myths for which there is no evidence and that are kept behind a firewall in order to keep reason at bay.'

We've gone over the evidence thing before and you never answered any of the points we raised. This whole sentence is baseless and inflammatory and doesn't make a point. It cheapens your whole argument.

12 June 2010 at 20:52  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"If morality is relative. It MUST be relative to an absolute. That is simply a logical truth."

Nope, no logical truth at all, although you would like to portray it that way.

Morality is relative to an ideal, not an absolute.

13 June 2010 at 10:27  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Glovner,

Then the ideal is absolute. Do you know what relativity is?

13 June 2010 at 15:51  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

In which context?

In physics it's the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts.

In Philosophy it's a dependence upon some variable factor such as a psychological, social, or environmental context, any theory holding that truth or moral or aesthetic value, etc., is not universal or absolute but may differ between individuals or cultures.

I don't see how either of those supports your argument?

14 June 2010 at 09:31  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

TheGlovner said...
"In physics it's the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts... I don't see how either of those supports your argument?"

But there are absolutes in relativity. Although the time interval between two events is relative, there is an associated absolute quantity -the elapsed proper time- which is independent of observer. The sign of a time interval is also absolute (which means that causality is preserved).

In ethics, the statement that stealing is objectively, intrinsically wrong (independent of culture) is analogous to the statement in relativity that proper time is independent of observer. That intentions and circumstances may aggravate or mitigate the degree of wrongfulness corresponds in special relativity to the statement that the magnitude of a time interval is observer dependent. That stealing is always wrong corresponds to the theorem in special relativity that the sign of a time interval does not depend on observer.

Graham Davis: You argue that ethics is relative because the magnitude of the wrongfulness of an act such as stealing depends on circumstances. But absolute ethics does not prohibit this. It merely prohibits a change in the "sign" of the wrongfulness, just as in special relativity change of observer prohibits a change in the sign of a time interval between two events. Thus your argument that ethics is relative fails because you have changed the usual meaning of the term "relative". This is a fallacy of definition.

14 June 2010 at 11:30  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

But what about when it is not independent of culture?

Not all cultures agree on the moral ideals (or abosolutes if you prefer). How do you explain this if the morals that you claim are absolute an handed to us from an external source to follow?

Surely if this were the case then we would all share the same absolute moral beliefs, but this isn't the case.

And to answer that you are right and they are wrong because they don't get that you are right isn't an answer.

The answer (IMHO) is that our various cultures on the planet have grown and devleoped their subjective moral codes based on the group benefits over millions of years.

A large percentage of the moral codes do intertwine to some degree but this would make sense since a lot of them will benefit any society or culture over the individual and so they are naturally adopted over time as the ideal. But given enough time and new knowledge these ideals can evlove.

So that's not to say the moral codes laid down in the bible weren't a spot on representation of the world 1700 years ago, but the main problem with religions setting up their decrees as absolute truth is that they are unchanging, as the world and its people move on, learn and grow, the religious ideals stay rooted in beliefs of thousands of years ago.

14 June 2010 at 12:31  
Anonymous Budgie said...

The Glovner said: "a lot of them will benefit any society or culture over the individual and so they are naturally adopted over time as the ideal."

"Benefit" the society? That's surely not an absolute creeping in by the back door, is it?

My (relative) moral system is not interested in "benefiting" society. And my moral system is as valid as yours - because it is relative.

Unless you are within the Tao, and acknowledge its absolute nature, you cannot maintain that "benefiting society" is an over arching good.

14 June 2010 at 14:19  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

You are being purposely obtuse and ignoring half the statement.

Benefit the society/culture over the individual.

Everyone's individual relative moral system is just as valid as anyone elses, however if you wish to remain an active part of the society you inhabit then you need to fit in with the established moral framework of the society you inhabit. Otherwise that society will remove you in one way or another.

In some places they will remove you from the free society and put you in jail, on others they will remove you permanently by condeming you to death (strange that murder is an absolute moral negative according to religious dogma yet so many religious support the death penalty in America).

And the moral framework of the society you inhabit is invariably made up from thousands of years of experiences from many different individuals. At one point any form of taking anothers life may have been wrong. Over time it may have been accepted that different motives and contexts of taking another life will change the treatment of the crime. So at one point we had an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, now we have first degree, second degree third degree, manslaughter etc. All are forms of taking another persons life all are generally accepted to be wrong, but they are not treated as an absolute wrong, they are treated withing the confines of the individual act. But that is in our society.

I imagine if we looked hard enough into the past or to isolated tribes we may find other examples where there is no real issue with the murder of another, because of the time or the isolation of thier society gave rise to a different moral framework that suited that society.

14 June 2010 at 15:33  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

TheGlovner said...
"I imagine if we looked hard enough into the past or to isolated tribes we may find other examples where there is no real issue with the murder of another."

If we look really, really hard, we can find more recent examples of the outcome of relativist thinking.
Hint: See post at 10 June 2010 01:11

14 June 2010 at 16:43  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

And so there we are back at the Nazi comments.

There is no point continuing this dialouge if that is your answer.

14 June 2010 at 18:07  
Anonymous Budgie said...

The Glovner, 'This will benefit society' cannot lead to '_do this_' except by the mediation of 'society ought to be benefited'. Thus you have introduced a duty of the Tao, an absolute (to 'benefit society'), that transcends merely individual subjective beliefs, by the back door - again.

In any case the use of the word 'benefit' is a subterfuge. With morals that are purely subjective (limited to the individual's felt impulses) there is no logical reason to 'benefit society' in the first place. Yet you clearly think that 'benefiting society' is good for its own sake, that is objectively.

Every appeal to an objective 'benefit' or 'good' or 'truth' is an admission of the objective absolutes of the Tao.

14 June 2010 at 18:45  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

TheGlovner said...
"And so there we are back at the Nazi comments. There is no point continuing this dialoge if that is your answer.""

I am not trying to be insulting. To the extent that ethics is relative, the Nazi's can be viewed as moral. The real reason that dialogue is impossible is the illogic inherent in relativism. If our moral axioms are the product of blind evolution, then evil is relativized into good and my citation of Adolf Hitler is pertinent to this discussion.

Hitler did not invoke God but rather Darwin when he stated:

“But what if the strong (Aryans) choose not to dominate and exterminate the weak (Jews)? This would be against Nature, whose “whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, might be ruined with one blow.” — [Mein Kamp]

Here is an interesting essay:
The Problem of Evil by Benjamin Wiker

14 June 2010 at 20:06  
Anonymous Adrian Peirson said...

The reason women abort, in the main, is because the Govt and our media make it available and acceptable, they also make the idea of family ugly through programmes like Jeremy kyle, eastenders, coronation street, road wars, street wars etc etc.
Those programmes do not reflect our society as much AS deliberately shape it , by design.
The ruling elites know the best type of people to rule over are the pooor and uneducated, hence mass third world immigration while at the same time inviting and encouraging us to exterminate ourselves.
200,000 abortions per annum, 7.2 million since 1970, now advertised on TV and proposals to sterilize our school children.

sterilise British children
http://tinyurl.com/55j6em

200,000 Abortions per year
http://tinyurl.com/ybs9f43

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20100519/tuk-tv-adverts-on-abortion-to-be-screene-dba1618.html
Advertising Abortion
http://tinyurl.com/355peaq

EU invites in 50 million Africans in secret deal.
http://tinyurl.com/50millionsecretplot

These events are not happening by accident but by design.

17 June 2010 at 22:57  

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