Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Parliament supports 'compassionate' guidelines on assisted dying

Yesterday, for the first time in 40 years, Parliament debated a substantive motion dealing directly with euthanasia and the 'right to die'. Things were clearer back in 1970s. Or they seemed to be. Since then, there have been some very high-profile cases which have aroused profound sympathies and persuaded more than a few that maybe the timing of one's death should be removed from the hand of God, who no longer exists like He did back in the 70s, and if He does, He cares a little less about the likes of Diane Pretty, Debbie Purdy, Tony Nicklinson and Sir Terry Pratchett.

If their lives are 'dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable', why should they be denied the right to end their troubled existence? Who really can judge whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? Yet gradually, surreptitiously and incrementally, the courts and the DPP have sided with the afflicted and suicidal against the expressed will of Parliament. The Suicide Act 1961 makes assisting suicide illegal. But we can't be having enlightened 21st-century deaths bound by primitive 20th-century attitudes.

Whether you call it 'euthanasia', 'mercy killing', 'assisted suicide', the 'right to die', these are matters for Parliament rather than the courts. A single judge may be swayed by the powerful and distressing facts of a unique case, such that his or her compassion might admit the common law defence of necessity to override any murder charge.

Yesterday the House of Commons passed unopposed a motion to 'welcome' the DPP’s guidance, published in February 2010, which attempted to clarify when compassionate intervention may mitigate murder. Whilst not being absorbed into UK law, this new prosecuting policy is now effectively sanctioned by Parliament, and the 'right to life' waters are muddied sufficiently to permit a little more judicial activism. Either assisting a suicide is illegal or it is not: it cannot be legal one day, when life is 'dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable', and illegal the next, when things feel a little better.

During the debate, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP asked: How can prosecutors be sure that someone assisting suicide is motivated by compassion, not other factors? Disabled MP Paul Maynard said assisted suicide sends message that some lives (eg disabled) are not worth living. Legal assisted suicide for one person would diminish the value of the life of every person, he said. He also said that the true definition of compassion is being lost: it is not feeling sorry for someone but ‘fellow suffering’. Dr John Pugh MP said that euthanasia is a logical conclusion of assisted suicide. He and David Burrowes MP argued that enshrining the DPP’s guidelines in statute would fetter the DPP, denying the discretion given to him by other statutes.

Fiona Bruce MP observed that that UK is world-leader in hospice care. It prioritises care, not ending life. A palliative care specialist told Mrs Bruce that doctors are concerned that legal assisted suicide would put them in very difficult position regarding their patients. She also said that disabled peer Baroness Campbell says assisted suicide won't stop with the terminally-ill but will threaten the disabled.

Solicitor-general Edward Garnier QC opposed the motion to put the DPP’s guidance on a statutory footing. Glenda Jackson MP said that Lord Falconer's Commission on Assisted Dying was biased and funded by assisted suicide lobby. Naomi Long MP said that it is difficult to assess if a patient is terminally-ill. The proposed terminal illness 'safeguard' is therefore dubious.

Ian Paisley Jnr MP argued that the House of Commons would be foolish to put in place a law deciding when someone loses their life. He also said that assisted suicide would open a Dutch-like floodgate to euthanasia. Frank Field MP said that euthanasia was the unspoken issue in the debate. He added that some relatives have vested interests in patient's death. Mark Pawsey MP said that his family experience tells him that legalising assisted suicide would be wrong. It would be a slippery slope for our nation.Edward Leigh MP said that we must never let old people feel they are burdens. Life must come first and we must proclaim life.

Jim Shannon MP called on Parliament to uphold the Hippocratic Oath's 'First do no harm' principle and the Oath’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide. Robert Halfon MP said that legalising assisted suicide is dangerous, and called on MPs to remember that ‘life unworthy of life’ was the basis of the Nazi euthanasia programme. John Glen MP argued that a blanket law banning assisted suicide is only way to protect vulnerable.

The law on assisted suicide remains unchanged: it is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Yet we know where the DPP's 'guidelines' will end, for we have seen with abortion that procedures which were only ever intended to be performed in extremis lead to all manner of unintended abuses. A distinction will now be drawn between maliciously encouraging someone to kill themselves, which would continue to be prosecuted, and compassionately supporting someone's decision to die, which will not lead to arrest and prosecution.

And it will be for the clever and expensive lawyers to argue over whether or not one may be compassionately malicious.

66 Comments:

Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

First they came for the babies – who had no great advocate to make the case for their defence – not even the established Church.

Now they come for the old, the sick, the frail and the confused.

Tomorrow they will apply the ‘quality of life’ argument to those who dare to disagree with the State – that’s you and me my friend.

28 March 2012 at 09:58  
Blogger Murray said...

Exactly so your Grace. The culture of death never sleeps. This is how they will take care of the demographic wave that is drowning (excuse the pun) the goverment purse (e.g. NHS spending on the elderly).

Lord Acton

28 March 2012 at 09:58  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Who really can judge whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?

The individual directly affected of course.

This is about assisting a loved one fulfill their decision without the leaving the friend or family member open to prosecution.

Suicide is not illegal. Openly assisting someone, physically incapable but mentally aware to make that decision should not be a crime. The DPP currently investigate all cases of such now, and are more than likely make the decision not to prosecute.

Why not allow the 'investigation' to take place while the person is alive instead of piling the pain of arrest and suspicion upon a loving friend or relative.

28 March 2012 at 10:29  
Blogger MrTinkles said...

I guess few people would want to see (say) a loving husband, friend or partner jailed for "assisting" the suicide of their loved one where it really was their wish.

But,

"Baroness Campbell says assisted suicide won't stop with the terminally-ill but will threaten the disabled."

Of course it will...it always goes like this.
If the last (however many) years has shown us anything, it is that when politicians or pressure groups "assure" us that "it won't lead to..." - 10, 20 or 30 years later it can be seen that it lead exactly to "that".
To use another topic regularly aired on this blog, I remember politicians assuring us that civil partnerships would not lead to gay marriage. Further back, they told us that the 67 abortion act would not lead to abortion on demand.
Just like human cloning will happen, if it hasn't already...

"Jacob Rees-Mogg MP asked: How can prosecutors be sure that someone assisting suicide is motivated by compassion, not other factors?" Exactly, and guess which side prosecutors will err on?

28 March 2012 at 10:30  
Blogger non mouse said...

And now,

About the misery of our Pestiferous Parliament....

28 March 2012 at 10:42  
Blogger non mouse said...

Murray said: This is how they will take care of . . . (e.g. NHS spending on the elderly)
Oh but they've been doing that for years. You know all those uncontrollable infections in hospitals are one way. Oh well, maybe it'll be a bit easier now, though you'd think drugs would be more expensive than dirt.

How much of the killing will be genocide is another relevant question, of course.

28 March 2012 at 10:53  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

The insanity around this beggars belief. It has more potential issues than the health bill supposedly had!
And what of life insurance? Will an assisted death mean that the policy is still valid? And if not, what is the pint in them anyway? After all, who can tell who will and won't need their life ending prematurely? And, af course, this will the lead to more debt due to funeral costs not being covered. Oh, and what of inheritance? Will those that stand to inherit be allowed to be the one assisting?
As I said, far too many problems that would need ironing out!

Going off at a slight tangent, I was observing General Synod when they debated assisted dying at the February sitting. Many spoke of the sanctity of life, how taking life is the right of God alone and so on, but no one once mentioned miracles! It is a sad state of affairs when humans give up hope in something being able to be done to change a situation, but it is truly tragic when people who believe in a God who can do anything do the same! Shame on the Church for letting the world give up on hope!!!

28 March 2012 at 11:20  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, the Dutch are showing the way with specially equipped vans to bring assisted suicide to the homes of those too weak to travel. Any citizen over the age of 75 may qualify.

As Mr Murray suggests, health funds and the NHS will welcome this progressive development.

It only remains to decide what tune the vans' loudspeakers should play as they tour the 'burbs and villages.

Greensleeves would possibly draw the wrong demographic.

28 March 2012 at 11:23  
Blogger Jon said...

Your Grace, humanity has killed in the past with God's blessing.

Ex 17:23 Amalek and his people
Ex 21:20-21: It's ok to kill your slave as long as they don't die too quickly.

Then there were the Caananites, Midianites, Og's people, Sihon, Jericho, Achan, Ai, The Gibeonites, Makkedah, the Libnahites, the people of Lachish. This was just from a brief google search. From memory, Joshua was the Genghis Khan of his day and committed genocide against many more with God's blessing.

But ending the painful suffering of a loved one in circumstances of their own choosing before the body God made for them fails entirely is contrary to God's will.

Truly, God is a merciful, loving God, is he not?

28 March 2012 at 11:25  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Tinkles

Then the issue is one of the failure of governmental and enactor administrators to guarantee the application of safeguards.

I accept it is a serious problem but not insurmountable. Society in general is youth and 'fitness' focused and either lazy or in denial when it comes to tackle end of life issues. It seems we as a nation can't even rely on the quality of care currently on offer by the NHS to the elderly in so called care homes or geriatric wards because collectively we have stopped caring.

In case of the Welfare of the vulnerable, the terminally ill or disabled, the guaranteed provision of due diligence should be a prerequisite in all aspects of health care. A person's control over their life is something taken for granted until their body lets us down; it should not be something that should be taken from them when they need to excercise that control at their will because of a disability.

We are dealing with a persons specific wishes here and not a State engineered euthanasia programme. To deny a dying, suffering or disabled but mentally capable individual equality in relation to dignified and pain-free death as an end their suffering, is simply inhumane and unjust.

28 March 2012 at 11:39  
Blogger non mouse said...

From euTopia to Dis-topia, in one fell swoop:

Maybe they can cut costs by having home-based killings, and then just reincarnate the mediaeval "Bring Out Your Dead" routine ...

Perhaps they can charge VAT for incineration if the body's still warm. All temperatures must be in centigrade, of course.
_______________
Re-inscription of Britain: The Mass Grave of the World.

All eutopias are dystopias, I know.


_______________

28 March 2012 at 11:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dreadnaught @ 11.39 said, 'We are dealing with a persons specific wishes here and not a State engineered euthanasia programme.'

Wanna bet? For a bloke in his sixties your naivety surprises. Ask yourself this question, where does the interest of the state lie? And if that's too hard to answer, here's another question; does the state want millions of elderly, infirm and unfunded dependents?

If not, what to do?

Are you starting to get the picture?

The risk of abuse in assisted suicide is extremely high.

Mr Youthpasta asks an excellent question regarding life insurance. Indeed, the implications for life insurance are more complicated than the prima facie issue of whether a policy pays out on assisted suicide. Life insurance is based on actuarial calculations of the term of life. If the state determines the term, and it doesn't take that much imagination Mr Dreadnaught, to see that it will, life insurance will be cheap!

28 March 2012 at 12:06  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

I'm really glad my line will die with me. Really.

28 March 2012 at 12:23  
Blogger bluedog said...

A solution to the vexed question of the musical accompaniment to the Vans.

The perfect euro-requiem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A21D7zp1Vk&feature=related

Nick Clegg to action the necessary numbers of CDs.

28 March 2012 at 12:38  
Blogger Jon said...

I just can't see a Bible based justification for the Church's position (or at least not one that's not riven with internal inconsistency). Once again, the Church has picked a side based upon some of the Bible and is conveniently ignoring other parts.

There are strong intellectual and emotive arguments either way (although given that the elderly are much more likely to vote, I don't see how the slightly more paranoid amongst the commenters here believe that their dystopian vision would come to pass in a democracy).

I don't know how the Church has managed to arrive at its position given the biblical precedents for the mass killings in the Old testament, which given the life expectancy of the time, would have been anything other than assisted suicides for those suffering from degenerative illness!

28 March 2012 at 13:14  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This is another example of the danger of embedding secular presuppositions in law. The governing assumption is that man is his own sovereign; that he by nature possesses the authority to govern the span of his life. To the extent that each maintains his own independence of course. Even so, the law establishes that the life of any man has no intrinsic value but only use value. Does he experience pleasure or pain? Is he dependent or independent? Is his pride denigrated or protected? This is the calculus that is applied to determine whether a man can lawfully end his life - or perhaps compel others to do it for him. It is a utilitarian calculus for a utilitarian view of man. Because it has no vision of the transcendent, it his no vision for the value of life in the face of suffering. The legally official purpose of life becomes its enjoyment. If life cannot be enjoyed, then it becomes purposeless and may be ended with as much dispatch as possible.

The consequences of such a law cannot be isolated to only those autonomous individuals who choose to die. Once life is legally invested with only use value, powerful incentives will come into play to enforce that logic on those who won't choose it freely. The healthy will see the infirm as an impingement on their ability to live life purposefully. They will see the infirm as an unnecessary demand on both time and money. And the pressure to do something about it will grow. That's when the safeguards will start to fall. Too many people will find they have an interest in removing those safeguards, and so those safeguards will be removed. Quietly. Compassionately. Then it won't be about the autonomy of the individual to chose the time and manner of his death anymore. It will be about the desire of the survivors to be free of burden. "You've had your life, Gramma. It's time to let it go now."

carl

28 March 2012 at 13:15  
Blogger Jon said...

Carl - you're right. Far better to embed biblical principals instead.

Now, which ones should we pick???

28 March 2012 at 14:10  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Three score years and ten the Bible says. I think new life should be supported and nurtured but old life that is broken beyond repair is pointless keeping alive.

Even if we learn to have more compassion, tolerance and patience with those who's minds have gone, there comes a time when they need professional care.

There are already malicious goings on in care homes, beds so narrow that grandma falls out every night, dehydration and although dinners are cooked and provided staff too busy to feed the residents so they go hungry too. Any past illnesses have to be reported to the care home, eg a leaky prostate suddenly develops into a bladder infection through the dehydration. Sedations if grandma gets a bit too active turns her into a zombie. All contributes toward wearing down the body so they can die a “natural” death. It is surely cruel to keep them hanging on. And those with terminal bodily illnesses in pain.

28 March 2012 at 16:00  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Jon, you are being dense, and I wonder if it is not deliberately so. Read the reasons why and you find that those who God declared His enemies were people's who had rejected Him and so this was judgement upon them.

It was also because God had chosen Israel as His means of letting the world know about Him. Each nation that was fought was given a chance to be a part of God's plan, but they rejected it. So what you are calling genocide and mass murder is such only by looking at it from a wrong perspective. And it is such a perspective that do many people try to use to argue against God, because they apply human ideas upon him, rather than realising that He is God!

28 March 2012 at 16:53  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Integrity
'Are you starting to get the picture?'

Regarding your head in the sand - do nothing position - I certainly am. I hope you never have to take your loved one out of the country as I did three years ago.

28 March 2012 at 17:23  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jon

I would start with the legal establishment that the value of a man's life is not found in either his present experience, or his expectation of future experience. A man's life has intrinsic value because it reflects the image of his Creator. That life must be defended even from the desires of the man himself.

btw, God is not a man. He does not think like a man. He does not act like a man. He is not bound like a man. He has the right to judge, and to execute judgment. Your entire argument about 'biblical precedents' is based upon an illegitimate anthropomorphization of God.

carl

28 March 2012 at 18:35  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Jon

The OT 'genocides' weren't genocides because they were instructed to remove people from the land, not from existence. Peoples fought against Israel and were defeated, but to secure Israel from further attacks they needed secure borders. Why not take the land off those who tried to destroy you? The option for the enemies of Israel was to leave and survive or stay, fight and die. That's not a genocide because the aim was not to kill a race of people.

Besides, it is obvious that you have read scripture to find sticks to beat Christianity with rather than to gain any understanding. You can justify many things if you take scripture out of context, but we haven't because we don't. The culture we live in was once founded on Christian principle and yet we did not have assisted suicide or abortion on demand. Any scriptural justification you have found for euthanasia must thus be the fault of your interpretation. You are using a cheap Dawkinsesque tactic and it most certainly does not look clever or profound.

28 March 2012 at 19:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Leave everything as it is now. The whole issue is dynamite. To those of you who support assisted dying – you realise it will be abused from week 2...

28 March 2012 at 19:07  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Also I agree with what Mr Jacobs has written above. The reason murder is immoral isn't just because it causes suffering, but mainly because it is taking something that does not belong to you. As you are created by God and he owns your life, it is utterly justified that he should end it if he pleases. Do you get morally outraged when someone lets their sims die? Given that we are all guilty of sin, and that the wages of sin is death, it is merciful that he has let us live as long as we do.

28 March 2012 at 19:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Honour your father and your mother

Not "help" put them out of their "misery", caused in part by feeling a burden.

What have we become as a society when we are even contemplating taking an "understanding" look at "compassionate" murder?

Get thee behind me, Satan.

28 March 2012 at 20:30  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Dreadnought @ 17:23
What on earth are you talking about? I have not commented on this bog.
As it happens I have my 88 Year old mother-in-law live with us and she is frequently ill. We have promised she will never be put in a home and she won't, as long as she can be cared for by a home nurse. More people should take direct care of their elderly.

28 March 2012 at 20:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Jon
You really do need to go back to basics as far as Christianity is concerned. Your angry, ill-informed outbursts have an air of desparation about them.

28 March 2012 at 20:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lakester: "As you are created by God and he owns your life, it is utterly justified that he should end it if he pleases."

Unfortunately, that rather relies on the ungrounded premise that your god exists.

28 March 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The reason why I think other people have instrinsic value is because I think I have intrinsic value and I recognise that other people are essentially the same as me. Surely it's a product of self-awareness, empathy, and a gregarious nature.

28 March 2012 at 20:56  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...
" ...other people are essentially the same as me"

Really? We can't all be perfect!

Would the intrinsic value to which you refer, rooted in individual self awareness and combined with liberalism, permit suicide, assisted suicide and euthenasia?

Where's the possible harm to others if an individual is permitted to decide when and how s/he should die? Surely it's a private decision?

You must see where all this is leading.

28 March 2012 at 22:26  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Integrity, I do apologise I meant to refer to Bluedog.

28 March 2012 at 23:13  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

The reason why I think other people have instrinsic value is because I think I have intrinsic value and I recognise that other people are essentially the same as me.

Unfortunately, that rather relies on the ungrounded premise that your opinion matters to someone besides yourself. Did the NKVD Agent value the life of the Kulak simply because the NKVD agent valued his own life? Well, no. The self-reference of "You are essentially the same as me and therefore as valuable as me" is just as easily rendered "You are essentially different from me, and therefore not as valuable as me." And there is no one to adjudicate the difference. Well, except for the Checkist with the Nagant M1895.

carl

29 March 2012 at 00:12  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

A profound insight.

A core belief of Christianity is that we are all of equal worth, being created in God's image. The message of both Testaments as revealed by Christ.

As created creatures with a Divine purpose, we owe our very existance to God and have a duty to live according to His will.

29 March 2012 at 01:06  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Our treatment of the aged is a terribly sad and a sickening indictment of our affluent and secular society.

I do not see a lot of difference in the nazi way of dealing with the expendable and the state of nursing homes (except the nazi way was quicker).A lingering death is a form of torture.

This does not mean I support euthanasia . It means I do not support a secular heartless society built on superficial values
which is why I spend most of my year in the third world land of the heathen who in spite of being dirt poor,manage to value their religion and care for their aged and allow them to die in diginity and peace.

29 March 2012 at 01:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Unfortunately, that rather relies on the ungrounded premise that your opinion matters to someone besides yourself."

Oh c'mon, it's hardly ungrounded, it's the basis of our society here in the UK. That's in the real world where we can actually see cause and effect. Compare that with your god hypothesis which inhabits a make-believe world to suit the desires of your god's designers.

Human nature is a mixture of the selfish and the social, operating under an inevitable tension. We're a fairly rational species too and can create the form of our societies. We need to accept that and structure accordingly rather than create Second Comings and other religious silliness to try to square the circle.

We don't actually need god hypotheses to stand as external markers to man-made morality and to serve as invisible punishment givers in an afterlife that almost certainly doesn't exist. That's just smoke and mirrors and the game is up for the conjurers in the minds of much of the audience.

Your religion suffers from similar problems as (say) a society structures along a Rawlsian theme. It requires majority acceptance, or rather actual belief in your case, to work properly and by that measure your desired religious paradigm is stuffed. At least a Rawlsian structure is something one can make an appeal to in the rational minds of people.

29 March 2012 at 07:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Would the intrinsic value to which you refer, rooted in individual self awareness and combined with liberalism, permit suicide, assisted suicide and euthenasia?"

Suicide and assisted suicide, but not euthanasia. Dodo, you're actually your own man despite your religious indoctrination. It's your right, a fundamental right, to choose to die. The issue for me is the practicalities of that in society, and how we protect the vulnerable or properly exercise paternalism in some cases.

29 March 2012 at 07:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "As created creatures with a Divine purpose, we owe our very existance to God and have a duty to live according to His will."

A mere statement of personal religious faith. Why should anyone else bother with the assertions in it?

29 March 2012 at 07:21  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dreadnaught @ 17.23/28th, 'tis this communicant, not Mr Integrity who is the object of your disdain, or so it seems.

Your statement 'I hope you never have to take your loved one out of the country as I did three years ago.' is somewhat Delphic.

Are you trying to say that you took your beloved to Switzerland to be put down?

29 March 2012 at 09:52  
Blogger Jon said...

I'm enjoying Lakester and Youthpasta's rather desperate attempts to justify the compromises of the uncompromising "thou shalt not kill" which are actually detailed later on in the Old Testament. If God wanted people killed, he could just have smote them all and Israel could have kept the commandment. After all, he smote people in Numbers 16: 27-33, Numbers 16:49, Numbers 21:6, Numbers 25:9 - total deaths from these verses > 38,000 people according to the Bible. Why did he need Israel to do it?

And it wasn't all about the survival of the people of Israel (see DT: 2:33-34, DT 3:6 etc.) Women and children were killed - I can't imagine they put up much military resistance. So genocide would be an appropriate term, I suppose in modern parlance. And Lakester - have you ever actually sat down and read Deuteronomy or Numbers? I have. It's soul destroying, literally. What possible understanding of the heart of a loving God can be found in the lists of things, and people, and lives that were destroyed? I don't need to search out Bible verses to beat Christians with, but you should at least look at Bible verses which show the inconsistency in your apparently unshakeable belief in the Church's "right to life" bandwagon.

Dodo - I'm the one who's focussed on the basics. (Love your neighbour and treat others as you would be treated - basic humanitarian values). You're the one obsessed with Latin, incense and a blousy German with a fetishisation of other people's sex lives!

Carl - I'm not anthropomorphising God, He did. I thought he was called Jesus?

29 March 2012 at 12:53  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Jon said

"Your Grace, humanity (Only Israel was commanded as such with the nations you mention. The nation Israel itself was 'allowed ' to be punished/disciplined by it's enemies itself for wrongdoing so the perfect justice of God could be seen as Israel was supposed to be established as the perfectexamplre of a nation towards God but as an atheist you do NOT believe either in a Loving God or a Just God, do you?! ) has killed in the past with God's blessing.

Ex 17:23 Amalek and his people
Ex 21:20-21: It's ok to kill your slave as long as they don't die too quickly."

You say "Then there were the Caananites, Midianites, Og's people, Sihon, Jericho, Achan, Ai, The Gibeonites, Makkedah, the Libnahites, the people of Lachish. This was just from a brief google search. From memory, Joshua was the Genghis Khan of his day and committed genocide against many more with God's blessing."

God does not take the destruction of people lightly. As demonstrated early in Genesis when God personally smote (because His chosen people had yet to develop into the nation that could act on his behalf) the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he showed his desire to spare a group of people even if there are a very small number of people who can be seen as “righteous.( Genesis 18:23-26, 32.)

Besides, under the rules of conduct God had given to the Israelites, whenever they went into an enemy city they were to first make the people an offer of peace. [Deut. 20:10:10-13] The people had a choice: they could accept that offer, in which case they wouldn’t be killed, or they could reject the offer at their own peril. That’s appropriate and fair, is it not. Was not the same offered to Japan during world war 2 but refused, hence Hiroshima, Nagasaki until peace was established?

Thus, contrary to the assertion of skeptics such as yourself, the destruction of the Amalekites was not an evil. It was the Amalekites who were evil, and it was the judgment of God through the Israelites on the Amalekites that led to their destruction. Believers can be confident that the people destroyed were irredeemably wicked and unrighteous. We can be confident that there were no righteous people among those destroyed. We can be confident that God sent them prior notice of their destruction, and that he gave them opportunity to repent and surrender even up to the date of the actual battle. The destruction that fell upon them was the result of their absolute and utter unrepentant evil, and their decision to continuously attack and attempt to annihilate the chosen people of God as with the others you mention.

end of part 1

29 March 2012 at 13:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

You cannot say of another man "He has intrinsic value." The best you can say is "I think he has intrinsic value." Even that is not a properly formed statement, however. According to your paradigm, it should actually be rendered "I think I have intrinsic value, and therefore I infer that he has intrinsic value." But we notice the direct object has been assumed, and not without reason. You hope by slight of hand to make a universal statement by leaving the direct object assumed. But you cannot make universal statements. You must complete the sentence. And that means you must answer the critical question. Who performs the valuation? You do.

We therefore arrive at a much clearer picture of what you said. "I think I have intrinsic value to to me, and therefore I infer that he has intrinsic value to" ... whom exactly? The proper parallel would be 'himself.' But merely observing that a man has a self-interest in valuing himself is no great insight. So should we then say "I think I have intrinsic value to me, and therefore I infer that he has intrinsic value to me." That's a noble statement, but the valuation applies to no one but yourself. Hence my assertion that no one but you cares about your opinion. It isn't binding - not even on yourself.

You want to make a general statement by application of a self-interested particular observation. You want to eventually arrive at this conclusion. "I have intrinsic value to me, and therefore I have intrinsic value to everyone." But that is an over-reach and you know it. The conclusion simply doesn't follow. So you settle for "I have intrinsic value to me, and he has intrinsic value to himself, so we will together agree to protect our mutual self-interest." One thing I figured out a long time ago is that men would have written the ten commandments a little differently:

"Thou shalt not kill me."
"Thou shalt not steal from me.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery against me.

The danger of self-referential systems is that the system must change according to the interests of the self. It doesn't account for non-universal groups with non-universal self-interests. It has no response to those who suddenly decide "Let's you and me kill him." Mr A and Mr B may value each other, and may together agree to protect each others self interest. That says nothing about the relationship of Misters A & B to Mr C. Which is how the Chekist justified killing the Kulak. As it was spoken while the trigger was pulled, "You are an insect!"

Your argument amounts to "God does not exist, and so we must determine some way to find value in man that references only man himself." Good luck with that. You would first have to establish that man in the absence of God even has value. Other than self-interested self-assessment, of course.

carl

29 March 2012 at 13:28  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

part 2

It therefore appears from your argument that you are taking a 'Moral Stance/Position' but the moral argument for the existence of God makes a very strong case that there can be no absolute morality without the existence of a moral lawgiver. Without an absolute standard, all you and others such as yourself can actually say is "I don't like this." And without an absolute moral law-giver, there is strong reason to believe that there is no basis for absolute moral standards.

God knows perfectly what each of us will do under any circumstance possible. God does not guess what may happen, but He knows fully, completely and perfectly what could possibly happen in each and every possible world as if it already did happen. This gives God certainty of knowledge beyond mere prediction.

This question you purport is irrelevant. It is designed by you to inflame passion without informing or making a point.
To wit, what I or any other person would do in such circumstances does not say anything about the rightness or wrongness of the action by God.
Neither I, nor any other Christian, is omnipotent nor omniscient in our knowledge of the works of any flesh born or unborn. Neither I, nor any other 21st Century Christian that I am aware of, would “willingly and gladly” participate in killing anyone. But my willingness to act is not the question.

Would God call on a Christian today to do the same thing as He called on the Amalekites? I can confidently say "absolutely not". The destruction of Amalek occurred in Old Testament times--a unique time heading towards the birth of Our Wonderful Saviour, Jesus, who you DENY. Until that time, God did what God did to make certain that Jesus was born at the time and place provided so that the most people could be saved. Once Jesus was born and died on the cross, the rules changed.
God has not changed, but a new part of His plan became effective. It was that "we are to love our neighbors as ourselves." It is atime of peace and goodwill from Go tiowards mankind!There is no longer a need to wipe out any person or persons or tribes because they can no longer, in any way, interfere with God's plan of salvation. The work on the cross is complete and nothing else on this earth will occur that can thwart this plan.

"Truly, God is a merciful, loving God, is he not?"

'And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.' and 'AND WE KNOW that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ' Indeed He Is!

You appear to have read plenty of works by 'Dawkin and others such as Farrell Till' yet refuse to read history and the Bible to KNOW what you refer to.

The wicked nations you refer to actually put their infants to death on flaming altars such as Molech yet our nation and others commit the same atrocities on a greater industrial scale by murdering them within the holy of holies, the mothers womb. God may have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah and others you conveniently mention if He refuses to deal with this vile secularist age you appear to love? It appears your morals are not based on justice but convenience and 'ignore my sin and I will ignore your's'!!!

Ernst , young atheist

29 March 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jon

Yes, you are anthropomorphizing because you are judging God as if He was a man.

I'm not anthropomorphising God, He did. I thought he was called Jesus?

And what his this statement to do with anything?

carl

29 March 2012 at 13:54  
Blogger Tanfield said...

Your Grace
The House of Commons does not appear to have considered the difficulty that arises for third parties who are asked to be involved in assisted suicide.
I am a Notary Public. I certify documents officially for use abroad. To secure an appointment with the Dignitas Clinic, and no doubt other similar establishments it is necessary to procure notarised birth certificates, marriage certificates and other documents of a similar nature. Some of my colleagues have been asked to notarise these for this purpose. Our Regulator (Your Grace's Faculty Office)has advised that our Notarial Oath of Office (found in the Public Notaries Act 1843) forbids us to do this as it involves "violence" and quite separately it is prima facie illegal to assist in a suicide in the same way as the family are doing so.. My colleagues have, as a result almost always refused to do so.
The HOC approval does not appear to
help us. As Notaries we normally have no previous contact with the family until we see the appearer with the documents on the agreed day and time for the documents to be notarised. How can we assess the motives of the person who wishes to die and whether or not they are subject to any pressure, implicit or otherwise. from their family or others to proceed? Any such enquiries on our part, however carefully phrased, are likely to be resented and will either be answered untruthfully or the appointment will come to an immediate end ! "Client Care " cannot apply here.
For us the best way is either that assisted suicide is 100% legal or 100% illegal - the proposed half way house will not do.

29 March 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger Jon said...

Blofeld, I'm sorry, but you lose me quite a lot when you write but I'll try to respond.

Firstly, you make a lot of suppositions about me. I don't think they're relevant, but it may help you to cull some of what you write to deal with my points more directly if you know that I don't consider myself an atheist. I also don't really read Dawkins.

Secondly, you said that God determined that the Amalekites were evil and must be destroyed. This did not necessitate action by Israel, since God knew that the people of Israel would kill the Amalekites, he could have saved them the breach of the ten commandments by doing it himself, could he not? So, it isn't that the OT is full of horrible things (this is undeniable I think, since commenters have only chosen to attempt to refute one or two of the small sample of the possible horrors which I could have listed) it's that God doesn't seem to mind killing sometimes.

My central point is therefore that the sanctioning of killing (or in this case the removal of sanctioning of killing) is a relatively new thing biblically speaking. It's also a relatively new thing for the Church, which until very recently was perfectly happy to wage war in its own name and sanctioned massive slaughter and the slave trade before it located its conscience.

So whilst our host has a perfectly consistent approach to "life" in his stance on abortion and assisted suicide, the Church he is part of, and the Bible from where he draws his wisdom, do not.

I am content for a man to come to his own thoughtful conclusions and greatly admire those who can do so consistently (especially in an age where technology is greatly multiplying the complexity of ethical dilemmas). It's one of the reasons I love reading this blog. However, it is beyond the realms of fantasy to impute consistency as one of the characteristics of the Church or the Bible where killing is concerned, so Carl's assertion about necessary universality in law making is wrong. Carl's laws must only be drawn from a subsection of biblical teaching, i.e. a non- universal source so his point is internally inconsistent.

Meanwhile the Church's stance on assisted suicide should be called out for what it is - a response to a set of circumstances which are entirely the creation of modern medicine (and therefore unmentioned in the Bible by a God who you say would have known they were to come), and based upon a partial reading by the Church of a holy book it selectively ignores.

29 March 2012 at 15:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

carl: "You cannot say of another man "He has intrinsic value." The best you can say is "I think he has intrinsic value.""

Funny enough, that's what I did say. Look:

"The reason why I think other people have instrinsic value is because I think I have intrinsic value and I recognise that other people are essentially the same as me."

Perhaps it didn't make the trip.

"You hope by slight of hand to make a universal statement by leaving the direct object assumed. But you cannot make universal statements."

You're misrepresenting me yet again, I am not trying make universal statements at all. We have talked about this a number of times. It is you who needs some sort of universal meaning, I don't actually give a feck. I'm quite comfortable with the notion that we only really have meaning to ourselves as a species. Moreover, I suspect this is actually why you are religious and why I am an atheist.

"You want to make a general statement by application of a self-interested particular observation. You want to eventually arrive at this conclusion. "I have intrinsic value to me, and therefore I have intrinsic value to everyone.""

Nope, you're wrong. It's that personal drive for something universal that dogs you. You can't help yourself, I think, and so you project. What I'm describing is a structure that one ought to be able to reach through rational thought and emotional intelligence. It's the basis of a reasonable appeal, in other words, to parts of human nature and regarding the human condition.

"The danger of self-referential systems is that the system must change according to the interests of the self. It doesn't account for non-universal groups with non-universal self-interests."

They certainly rely on maintaining and promoting the appeal but human nature doesn't really change in timescales to which humans can relate. They rely on some shared values too and the consent of people to be policed.

This of course takes us to the crux of the issue we tousle over yet again. In reality, there's probably no other choice. Your position is merely a "wouldn't it be nice if a human-interested god exists together some absolute morality that applies to us and some means of rewarding and punishing in an afterlife to keep people interested in complying." As you know, you can't demonstrate that at all. Moreover, it even looks designed by people to manipulate other people. On top of that, you have loads of competition from others on similar lines but with different gods!

"Your argument amounts to "God does not exist, and so we must determine some way to find value in man that references only man himself." Good luck with that."

Thanks. We're doing pretty good so far.

"You would first have to establish that man in the absence of God even has value. Other than self-interested self-assessment, of course."

Oh oh, that needs for something universal is dogging you again. We have value to ourselves as self-aware beings. That's the starting point. We might not know for sure that anyone else or anything else really exists but we assume it does and we assume other people are essentially just like us. It doesn't take much to realise that the hurt or distress we feel when things are done to us are felt by others if we do the same to them. There's the core of a social structure in that simple statement.

29 March 2012 at 15:14  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

you took your beloved to Switzerland to be put down

Sick bastard.

29 March 2012 at 16:12  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Oh lordy, I missed that. Hard to know what to say there as it's so breathtakingly bad.

29 March 2012 at 17:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog. You’re in the dog house now. Painful as it is to agree with Dreadnaught...

29 March 2012 at 17:42  
Blogger Mrs M said...

As with many 'legal' issues enshrined in the law of our land, like Daniel, I will not bow and with Gods amazing grace I will stand and fight. As long as I am free, I will choose the alternatives available to me. I will teach and equip my children, in some cases contrary to the prevailing culture and the shifting sands of morality, that there is something much greater to live for. We are so blessed in this age to have palliative care, when less than 100 years ago end of life pain and suffering would have been incomprehensible to the modern mind. If we get to see another 100 years, what this world will look like we don't know. I would like Jesus to come back now and bring in his perfect kingdom, where there will be no suffering. But as we wait I can sleep at night knowing that even the pain at the end of life is a 'light and momentary trouble'' compared to the awesome blessing of living forever with the great King of all ages. An eternal perspective on such matters is what is needed.

29 March 2012 at 20:10  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dreadnaught @ 16.10, if you did take somebody to Switzerland to be killed, what is your own description of the act?

Who is the sick bastard?

We all face situations where a loved one takes a long time to die, but some of us allow nature to take its course so that a worthy soul is received by a loving God. The idea of taking a family member to Switzerland or anywhere else to be humanely destroyed is utterly repugnant.

Unfortunately you are not fully disclosing the nature of your act so much remains conjecture.

29 March 2012 at 21:50  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Dreadnaught
Is it the use of the term "put down" that caused offence?

DanJ0 supports ...
"Suicide and assisted suicide, but not euthanasia."

Why not euthanasia if it's my fundamental right to choose how I die? Surely its just an extension of assisted suicide? A "mercy murder"?

How have you established this "right" you claim and how have you calculated the harm or absence of harm for society that might flow from this "right"?

Instead you focus on the practicalities and how to protect the vulnerable! And what do you mean by, "properly exercis(ing) paternalism in some cases."

I think I'll stick with my "mere statement of personal religious faith" and if you don't want to bother with it, you're choice.

However, the law should not be changed - or its application softened - until the above questions are resoved. And as they can never be, assisted suicide should stand as homicide.

29 March 2012 at 22:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo. Don’t allow any ‘questions’ to be answered. If only we had let those similar questions about abortion be left unanswered; we wouldn’t have child destruction on demand...

29 March 2012 at 23:58  
Blogger Jon said...

For goodness sake - Bluedog and Dodo - have some human compassion. I think you should be more careful to avoid causing needless offence, and I daresay substantial angst in another human being when dealing with something so raw.

Robust debate in the abstract is fine. Care and compassion in the personal ought to be assumed.

30 March 2012 at 10:13  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Jon
My question to Dreadnaught was not offensive in any way. I was merely asking why he reacted so angrily to an earlier provocatively posed response to information he posted. It's up to him whether he shares further information or not.

I do agree with your last sentence - unless, that is, we're discussing homosexuality.

Inspector
I agree. It's real life and real life situations that should be considered and not just moral theorising in the abstract.

30 March 2012 at 10:58  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Jon @ 10.13, I fully endorse Dodo's remarks @ 10.58 and earlier.

It was entirely at Dreadnaught's option to disclose that he had apparently taken somebody, possibly his wife 'outside the country', possibly to her death. In my view, the idea of taking a loved one to a bunch of contract killers in Switzerland, if that's what happened, is simply unthinkable and abhorent. Such an admission of defeat and loss of hope in the face of death is unacceptable in my family's corner of the Anglican Communion. Imagine the farewell dinner with their children, if any. Where is the compassion in that?

We see in Dreadnaught's response anguish and mourning, but is there also regret?

Now both you and Dreadnaught are atheists and you mock our Christian belief mercilessly and disdainfully. But is it possible that the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' contains a simple wisdom that your secular sophistication lacks, to Dreadnaught's cost?

I truly believe that to be the case and Dreadnaught is in my thoughts.

30 March 2012 at 12:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

You have made at least two universal statements on this thread. You asserted that men have intrinsic value. That statement is not comprehensible if it is subject to qualification by context. It's not something you can achieve by rational thought and emotional intelligence. If men can lose intrinsic value by losing an argument, then men do not possess intrinsic value in the first place. This is why I said you were trying to establish a universal from a particular observation.

You also said:

It's your right, a fundamental right, to choose to die.

This again is a universal statement. It is self-evidently not your right at the moment. You didn't say "It should be your right..." You said "It's your right..." Present tense. So what else then could this statement possibly mean? In the sense you use the word, you mean that the right attaches to the man by virtue of his being a man. You mean that it cannot be justly violated no matter what the law says. You could say "I believe every man should be able to kill himself at will." But you chose to use the word "right" and thus you would impose necessary obligations on others. The establishment of the right becomes binding on others whether they agree or not. Again, if a man can lose a right by losing an argument, then he didn't possess the right in the first place

carl

30 March 2012 at 17:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl, rights are human constructs and we use the term in a number of different ways, variously meaning legal right, moral right, and so on, and there are different forms of the construct too. We also use it colloquially.

It is not illegal to attempt to commit suicide, or to actually commit suicide, in the UK. We dispensed with that notion decades ago, thank goodness. To say we have that right, when others are claiming our lives belong to a hypothesised god, is to reject the claim.

In terms of formal rights and duties, one needs to consider whether the duties follow from the right. I actually think long-erm prisoners should be allowed to commit suicide if they are of sound mind. Of course, warders have a duty to prevent suicides but is that really a duty to the prisoner? I wouldn't have said so.

30 March 2012 at 19:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "You asserted that men have intrinsic value. That statement is not comprehensible if it is subject to qualification by context. It's not something you can achieve by rational thought and emotional intelligence."

I have to say it's looking like there's something of debating abortion with a Catholic about all this. Intrinsic value doesn't exist independently of us unless there's something else doing the valuing. It's the same with what we call fundamental human rights. We don't find fundamental human rights under a stone, they arise out of human society and follow from our arguments and understanding. It's the same with intrinsic value.

30 March 2012 at 19:48  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJo
Except that then it cannot be seen as intrinsic value but contingent value.

30 March 2012 at 20:32  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Ps
I take it you disagree with the ECHR on 'Operation Spanner' too:

Whilst a person has a general right of free will, a state may as a matter of public policy restrict that for the general public good and for the protection of morals.

30 March 2012 at 20:42  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Ah! I see now. The light dawns. From now on, whenever you use a word like 'rights' I will substitute 'human constructs.'

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Any given individual is too weak and marginal to establish his own interest. So he attaches himself to a collective. Because of his membership in the collective he acquires certain privileges. It doesn't matter how he acquires these privileges, btw. Argument, persuasion, coercion, threat, force. It only matters that he has them. You can call them rights if you like, or perquisites, or whatever.

These privileges do not attach to the individual inherently. They exist only because of membership in the collective, and only so long as the collective exists. The collective is responsible for enforcing the privileges of its membership in the face of competition with other competing collectives. If the individual collective suffers defeat, the individual member suffers defeat as well. The result is a competition for influence and dominance between collectives. It is the war of all against all, with power as the only method of adjudication. Nietzsche would approve.

So then. If a new collective acquires sufficient power and decides that it wold be a really good thing to hunt down and kill all male homosexuals in the UK, what complaint would you have against this new 'social construct?' Other than self-interest, I mean. You have no enforceable privileges outside your collective. Once your collective suffers total defeat, you are just fresh meat for the victors.

carl

30 March 2012 at 23:50  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl
And that's the inherent flaw in liberal democratic systems. The question is whether there is any better system our pluralism?

The counter argument from DanJ0 could be that the rights and responsibilities based on competing and unprovable faith systems may be as equally ruthless towards opposition.

31 March 2012 at 01:20  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

My description is independent of system. The collective could be Brown-shirt revolutionaries. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the individual derives his "rights" from his association with some group that is strong enough to enforce his interests.

carl

31 March 2012 at 01:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl, if you're deliberately being hypothetical and ahistoric to try to capture a sense of the form of it then you've not that far off by the look of it. However, what appears to be missing is any sense of the human condition and the attributes of our species. It's not a bad attempt though. You could probably use it as an opening chapter of a book in the same genre as Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.

Of course, when I say "ahistorical" I mean that individuals don't go through that process at all and proto-societies probably wouldn't have arose so cleanly that way. Yet when we look back through human history, we can clearly see the form of it in action as civilisations rose and fell. It has more than a whiff of our reality. Human rights are a relatively modern thing but a sense of injustice is probably ancient.

This is all probably inevitable for a species which has evolved to be gregarious and self-aware. The two attribues naturally cause a tension between self-interest and the social and I suppose it's inevitable that we'd evolve numerous different types of social arrangement over time too.

All that said, your worldview is based on a set of religious beliefs, ungrounded religious beliefs it has to be said. I realise that the notion that there isn't something all-knowing and all-powerful discernably directing the world must be very disquieting. I think religious people are probably inclined to order and the absolute. I really don't blame you for not wanting our values to be a bit fluid and for both purpose and meaning to be internal to our species.

31 March 2012 at 05:52  
Blogger len said...

It is only a matter of time before those who endorse abortion turn their attention to the other end of the spectrum and start 'assisting 'those who for whatever ......(and a very big whatever) reason do not wish to carry on living . Where does one draw the line.....depression?. And who decides to help the victim to die if the 'patient/victim is incapable of speech or reason?.

1 April 2012 at 08:32  

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