Thursday, June 28, 2012

Circumcision contravenes the Rights of the Child

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant (Gen 17:10-14).
Both Jews and Muslims in Germany are more than a little concerned about an Appeal Court ruling from Cologne which stipulates that the removal of the foreskins of babies and young boys amounts to bodily injury, and is therefore a violation of German law.

Sweeping aside millennia of religious custom and ritual, the Court has determined that State law in this regard is above God’s law, and that the child’s fundamental constitutional ‘right to physical integrity’ is challenged by the parental fundamental right to freedom of religion.

In cutting the boy, they reason, he is denied the freedom to choose his religion, because the outward change to his body and permanent. This is not, of course, the case with Christian baptism, which is also usually inflicted on babies, but a sprinkling of water on the forehead is not deemed to have enduring effects on sexual pleasure later in life. This Higher Court ruling expresses the view that the boy should have the freedom to choose whether or not to be circumcised when he reaches the age of majority and there is informed consent; that he is born with the right to ‘physical integrity’ which nobody should be permitted to take away (other than for acute medical reasons).

The verdict has some specific context, but the precedent has far-reaching implications. The case involved a four-year-old Muslim boy who suffered serious bleeding after undergoing a botched procedure. His mother took him to the emergency unit at Cologne University Hospital, and state prosecutors subsequently charged the doctor who had performed the operation.

A lower court found that the doctor had carried out the operation properly and ruled that the child’s circumcision was in his interests as it signified his membership of the Muslim community. However the prosecution appealed to a higher Cologne court which overruled the lower court’s verdict and concluded that circumcision caused bodily harm and was therefore not justified.

There are some four million Muslims in Germany and 200,000 Jews. Dieter Graumann, the President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, denounced the ruling as ‘outrageous and insensitive’. He views it as an ‘unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination’, and he demands that Parliament intervene to ‘protect religious freedom’. Aiman Mazyek of the Central Council of Muslims said the ruling was both ‘inadmissible’ and ‘outrageous’.

Mindful of past German antipathy toward his people, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said: "There's not a snowball's chance in hell the Jewish people would ever look to a German court, especially when it comes to how we should define our values or fulfil our traditions."

Now, there are those who insist that circumcision is not merely gratuitous Abrahamic law, but has been proven to be hygienically preferable and helps to prevent cancer or inhibit the transmission of HIV-AIDS. And yet (it seems to this Christian) there is nothing medically preventative about the practice if you wash properly and remain faithful in marriage.

The debate about banning the practice is even more interesting in the context of Kantian notions of human rights and his categorical imperatives on human dignity and liberty. Germany intends to outlaw female circumcision as it is considered barbaric: if man and woman are equal, the law may not discriminate against boys. Ergo, they must also be spared the barbarism of circumcision dogma.

His Grace can hardly wait to see how Germany’s 4.2 million children of Abraham react to this. It beggars belief that ancient religious practices which are symbolic of the sacred Covenant can be overturned by notions of inviolable human rights which have existed for all of five minutes. Once again, it is individual religious identity must give way to secular state orthodoxy. As JS Mill might put it, we once again observe the tyranny of the majority.

Either the judgment will be overturned by the Federal Court, or there will be one or two riots on the streets (probably not courtesy of the Jews). Another possibility is that David Cameron might extend an invitation to German’s Semites as he did to France’s millionaires: if your government is oppressing you financially or religiously, you will find the United Kingdom more conducive to your tax affairs and blood rituals.

Britain is surely open for a bit of circumcision tourism.

241 Comments:

Blogger Gareth said...

Apparantly the irony of implementing the policies of no less an anti-semitic tyrant than Antiochus IV Epiphanes was lost on this modern German court.

28 June 2012 at 10:14  
Blogger Galant said...

Does this apply to ear piercing as well?

28 June 2012 at 10:31  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

So, you are in favour of FGM then Your Grace?

28 June 2012 at 10:35  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Interesting that they think that outward appearance in any way defines your religious belief!

28 June 2012 at 10:35  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Gareth

Well spoken, young man. You beat me to it.
Epiphanes = "Human Rights" The revealing god, indeed!

E S Blofeld

28 June 2012 at 10:36  
Blogger Albert said...

"There's not a snowball's chance in hell the Jewish people would ever look to a German court, especially when it comes to how we should define our values or fulfil our traditions."

Well said, Rabbi. Germany is the last country that ought to interfere in this.

The intellectual inconsistency is apparent:

Under British law, a disabled Jewish boy can be aborted up to birth. By this logic, he is so protected eight days later he can't even join his own religion.

What will this result in? Circumcision tourism yes. But also backstreet circumcision. Considering how widespread male circumcision is in places like the US I imagine health complications are very unusual provided this is done properly. The dangers of dodgy backstreet circumcisions are serious and can result in death.

I seem to recall the risk of backstreet medical procedures is important to those who feel that abortion is such a terrible thing, but must be allowed because of the risk to the mother of backstreet abortion.

Can we have some consistency, please, or are German courts openly anti-Semitic again?

28 June 2012 at 11:16  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace said,
Britain is surely open for a bit of circumcision tourism.

As long as it's not on the NHS.

28 June 2012 at 11:17  
Blogger Preacher said...

So let's get this right. According to German law, it's O.K to Kill an unborn baby by abortion, but it's not acceptable to circumcise a male infant at 8 days old to conform with the religious practices of his family.
Personally I agree with your stance on personal hygiene & morality being sufficient Dr Cranmer. But one can see that the religious rites of others are important & adult circumcision is I understand quite a painful procedure due to the sensitivity of the area involved.
I must say however that I am totally opposed to the butchery that is called female circumcision that is not an ordeal that is required by any religion that I know of.

Preacher.

28 June 2012 at 11:24  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

From the point of view of hygiene, circumcision is a perfectly idiotic practice; if it is so hygienic, why not cut off your eyelids as well? That said, we are reaching a point where parents are going to be little more than reproduction engines with a duty to replace themselves within the population, but once the children are born they are to be turned over to the state for proper induction in "human rights" and "individual empowerment". A society is not an undefined number of individuals operating in isolation from one another; there are collective imperatives at work which cannot be ignored, and I think it is far past time that courts started recognizing that fact.

28 June 2012 at 11:33  
Blogger Owl said...

It seems that "equality" is doing it's damndest to enter the realms of absurdity.

28 June 2012 at 11:52  
Blogger Berserker said...

There are reports that in the UK female circumcision is being done by doctors and dentists. If they are convicted of this procedure they can be imprisoned for up to twelve years. No one has ever been convicted! Another example of please don't offend out Muslim brothers.

Do people realise that it is a long complicated procedure which at the finish requires stitching up of the vaginal area. As for male circumcision UK doctors regularly advise this for older men when in most cases it is not needed. A lot of nonsense, mainly from the USA has been propagated about the health benefits re penile cancer etc. But a study was done and it found that in Denmark where the (indigenous) male population had practically nil circumcision as against the USA where for whites there was a high circumcision rate, there was no more cancer in the Danish chaps than the Americans.

Here is an extract from a charity: the New Humanist,org.uk:


The squeamish might want to skip what happened next. What Aisha endured was type III genital mutilation, the least common but most painful and invasive type. According to Comfort Momoh, a midwife at the African Well Woman clinic in Waltham Forest, east London, this type of FGM is mainly practised in the Horn of Africa. A piece of glass or a razor is used to hack away the clitoris and the inner and outer labia. It is usually done by an old woman, often one with poor eyesight. If the mother pays a bit extra, a clean razor is used. It is usually done without anaesthetic on a fully conscious, usually screaming girl who is being held down by three or four women. After the cutting, thorns and silk are used to stitch the two parts of the vulva together. The girl’s legs are then tied together and they are left like that for two to four weeks. The whole cutting process lasts for about an hour. In time, scar tissue will form around the stitches, leaving a small hole the size of a match head for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

As only a mere male this makes me go hot and cold all over so what must it do for a woman!

28 June 2012 at 12:05  
Blogger Jimbo said...

Remember the Maccabees!

28 June 2012 at 12:25  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"... a sprinkling of water on the forehead...
Shame on Your Grace! Your own instructions are that the infant should be dipped discreetly and warily, once on either side of the head and once on the face.

28 June 2012 at 12:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Not so much 'tyranny of the majority' as an assertion of the primacy of autonomy. The decision repudiates the idea of imposed religious obligation. It denies covenant community - specifically the Covenant of Abraham - and amounts to criminalization of Jewish doctrine. The logic of the decision could just as easily be applied to religious instruction for if circumcision does bodily harm then the religious instruction of children by parents could be construed to cause even greater spiritual harm. Indeed, atheists on the weblog have said as much.

The ideal man is held to be perfectly free. He begins as a hypothetical child who grows up free of parental predisposition and chooses to his liking when he reaches his majority. Thus is his sacred autonomy preserved. He and he alone makes the decisions. Nothing may be imposed upon him. But this is foolish nonsense. Children must be taught right from wrong and good from evil. This is the responsibility of the parent, and imposes upon the child just as surely as any religious instruction. Why should only the former imposition be admissible?

At the root of this decision is the idea that religion is arbitrary and non-essential. It denies that there is any value found within to justify parental imposition on sacred autonomy. It asserts that there is no Covenant Community until the autonomous child becomes an autonomous adult and says so. Any such community thus becomes an arbitrary construct of man and not a tangible reality - at least in the eyes of the law. How long before the defense of bodily integrity is extended to the defense of spiritual integrity? Before religious instruction is criminalized as well, and parents are commanded to deny their most important obligation - to teach their children about the Living God.

carl

28 June 2012 at 12:58  
Blogger Hereward said...

Another small step towards suppression of religion by secular states. By reinforcing the trend of ideological compliance within leftist and increasingly illiberal democracies we gain momentum down the slippery slope towards totalitarianism where the population worship not a divine presence but a leader or an idea.

28 June 2012 at 13:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"For two women were accused to have circumcised their children: whom, when they had openly led about through the city with the infants hanging at their breasts, they threw down headlong from the walls."
(2 Maccabees 6:10)

28 June 2012 at 13:29  
Blogger Galant said...

So would anyone care to have a go at explaining the differences between FGM and circumcision? Since that's where this is headed.

28 June 2012 at 13:51  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

If God/nature had intended men not to have a foreskin then they would have evolved without one. It obviously is there for a purpose so all these Jews who are rather obsessive should not be chopping off a babies' foreskin, why not let the young man decide if he wants to be circumcised or not when he is 18.

I could well imagine that circumcision was done in a hot country centuries ago where keeping clean was a challenge and disease was rife. Forced circumcision is nonsense and should not be inflicted on modern day babies unless health is affected.

Maybe if the government start doing foreign circumcisions at say £1000 a time we might make some money back to dig ourselves out of debt.

28 June 2012 at 14:00  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Galant said ...

"So would anyone care to have a go at explaining the differences between FGM and circumcision?"

Don't be lazy. There's plenty of material available - Google it!

28 June 2012 at 14:03  
Blogger Sobers said...

I've always held that circumcision (male or female) of children is child abuse. After all the UK is pretty much on the cusp of banning all physical chastisement of children. Any physical punishment that leaves a mark would leave you open to prosecution for assault. If you cannot smack your child, why are you permitted to physically mutilate them? And there is a specific Biblical direction to use corporal punishment on children, so the State already bans religions from imposing their religious views in this area.

28 June 2012 at 14:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

I don't believe this is particularly anti-Judaic or anti-Islamic. There are two issues that need seperating.

Is circumcision an assault on a child that causes actual bodily harm with life-long negative consequences?

(It clearly is an 'assault', no point in denying it, though some say minor and without particularly negative or lasting consequences.)

Do parents have the right to raise their children in a particualr faith or no faith, including the right to subject them to ritualistic practices that involve pain and trauma?

(It is a parental duty to raise children with a sense of morality and parents must have the rights associated with it. How far does this extend?)

Balancing these issues isn't straightforward.

28 June 2012 at 14:29  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

It is ironic indeed that a tiny bit of skin is deemed more important to our owners then the entire lives of unborn 'disabled' or otherwise children.

It is difficult not to see this as a further attack on those of a godly persuasion.

Difficult, because this is precisely what facilitating abortion, while banning male circumcision most clearly is.

The underlying agenda is laid bare for all to see.

Yet can the people see that it is, and as importantly, do they care?

The answers to both questions is undoubtedly NO.

This is because they have been conditioned over time to not notice much more then the sporting results, and to not know their God even if he was standing next to them vigorously waving His arms around.

Our problems are many, however the most urgent being democracy itself.

Democracy is only a stones throw away from oligarchical dictatorship, indeed I would claim that this stone was long since thrown.

Human rights are not, and never have been protected by democracy, as only a constitutional government strictly operating under the rule of common law can achieve such a thing.

It is worth remembering that Hitler was ELECTED by The German People, and so was seen to be representative of the majority will of the people; in who's name committed the most unspeakable of evils.

Democracy is bad enough at the best of times, however during these kind of times it will murder you, either sooner or later, will do so quite legally and with a completely clear conscious.

28 June 2012 at 14:37  
Blogger Galant said...

Dodo - Not laziness - You could just as well argue that coming to Cranmer is lazy and you should find out the news by scouring the internet and form your own opinions independently without reference to anyone else. I'm interested in opinions here and if anyone has any specific knowledge in making the distinction. Google searches will lead to all sorts of opinions and 'facts'.

You yourself have said the issue of rights is a complex one, and assuming rights have been established, permitting one procedure and not the other is going to come down to specific differences rather generalisations between to two practices. I'm not an expert, just asking for insight is all. My apologies for asking for input rather than just spouting off a half-baked opinion (formed by browsing).

28 June 2012 at 14:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Gareth, Blofeld and Jimbo

Fascinating the connection with human rights, Epiphanes, humanism and the ancient Greek value of the 'body beautiful'.

I am starting to understand the likley peronality of the Anti-Christ.

28 June 2012 at 14:46  
Blogger Galant said...

Atlas - There are two comparisons to be made here and one them is potentially problematic. If we compare circumcision to abortion we are in effect making a comparison of degree saying that abortion is worse than circumcision. It might be an argument in the abortion discussion but it is a problem for circumcision, because it might imply that if (or 'since') circumcision is wrong, so should abortion be. That argument only serves to show imbalance in the law. It doesn't help defend either point. The second comparison, which is being used here to assault circumcision, is that of circumcision vs. FGM. The argument is that if/since FGM is wrong so should circumcision be. I think most or all of us, agree FGM is wrong. If we want to argue that male circumcision should be permissible and FGM not that is the comparison upon which we need to focus, I think. No?

28 June 2012 at 14:55  
Blogger Jon said...

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I agree with Dodo. It's complicated and there's two opposing forces at play. Rather than being more evidence of "PC gone mad" etc. I think the fact that the two courts disagree show that it's an issue of balance and conscience.

I'm uncomfortable with His Grace's putting female and male circumcision in the same paragraph. From what I understand they have radically different outcomes, health- wise for those affected and ought not to be properly regarded as equal just because the same word is used for both.

28 June 2012 at 15:11  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Gareth said ...
"My apologies for asking for input rather than just spouting off a half-baked opinion (formed by browsing)."

If you spend some time looking there are many helpful and informative articles on the web about this. And, anywy, you have formed an opinion, haven't you?

"I think most or all of us, agree FGM is wrong."

Female 'circumcision' is barbaric - period. Read up on the procedure and imagine it was our daughter. It is intended to remove sexual pleasure from the sex act for women. It is based on a male fear of the clitoris. Depeding on the form used, it results in life long deformity and makes the sex act painful. It is not required by any faith group but is used predominantly as a method of controlling the sexual lifes of women.

There really is no comparison with male circumcision. According to some 'experts', male circumcision desensitises the penis, makes masturbation more difficult and prolongs the sex act. Are these outcomes so bad? It does cause severe pain at the time but 8 week year old infants can and do face worse at the hands of the NHS for health reasons. Plus, it is a millenia old requirement of two large faith groups.

Jon
We may agree on the issues to be balanced, I doubt we'd agree on how one balances them.

I say, given male circumcision causes temporary pain and results in few health issues if performed correctly, leave it with the parents to decide if this mark of their faith should go ahead.

28 June 2012 at 15:49  
Blogger Galant said...

Jon - It is others who have made the comparison, not Cranmer.

"Although male circumcision - unlike female circumcision - is not illegal in Germany, the court's judgement said the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents".

Circumcision, it decided, contravenes "interests of the child to decide later in life on his religious beliefs".
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18604664

It seems they're throwing out two 'rights' - one to "bodily integrity" and one to decide one's own religious beliefs.

28 June 2012 at 15:51  
Blogger bwims said...

I am sympathetic to this. There is evidence that circumcision desensitises the glans so that orgasm is more difficult. If there is any remote possibility of that, then I say let the child wait until adulthood to make a choice.

Why is it such a big deal? Christians with intact foreskins convert to Islam and Judaism don't they?

If the Human Rights Court can be used to trample over religious sensitivities w.r.t. homosexual freedom, I don't see why it cannot be used to prevent genital mutiliation of a child - and that is indeed what it is, whether it is successful or not. These so-called "benefits" don't mean much to kids who receive botched operations, however rare. If one child can be saved from severe mutilation this way, I'm all for it.

28 June 2012 at 15:53  
Blogger Gareth said...

It is an odd human rights issue which is opposed (almost exclusively) by the very people who are the supposed 'victims'.

28 June 2012 at 16:51  
Blogger Gareth said...

PS: Dodo you have me confused with 'Galant'.

28 June 2012 at 16:51  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Gareth

It would appear so. Apologies.

28 June 2012 at 17:08  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

As for circumcision tourism, it can easily be deterred.

Any parent turning up at a doctors surgery with a circumcised child will be charged with abuse and mutilation.

It should not matter where it was done.

28 June 2012 at 17:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

If it were (say) a missing little finger and a small religious sect wanting the amputation then would we still be happy for parents to mutilate their child?

28 June 2012 at 17:43  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace. The Inspector would like to address your communicants as a member of The Freedom Association.

Brethren, we must at all times remember that we need to keep the state OUT of as much of our personal lives as is reasonably possible. The state is our servant, NOT our master. If you want it to be our master, then slavishly follow its and the courts’ directives at all times, and before you know it, our master it will be.

There you have it, short and sweet, and absolutely vital…

28 June 2012 at 17:50  
Blogger David B said...

Are there any here who would extend religious freedom to precolumbian rites in Latin America, or to some pre-Roman Celtic rites, both if which involved human sacrifice?

If so, I would think that their moral compass has ruined by some sort of absolute commitment to religious freedom.

To all who would not extend religious freedom to such lengths, though, then you accept that there are, or should be, limits to religious freedom.

The question then becomes where these limits should lie.

For myself, I would say that they would include the freedom for adults, whether male or female, to opt for circumcision.

Except on very strong medical grounds, though, I would not extend such freedom to chopping off bits of young children, male or female.

To me that is so obvious as to be a no-brainer, but the poisonous effects of religion, and pandering to it, seem to lead many others astray.

David B

28 June 2012 at 17:53  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Regarding FGM. Widely practised among the primitive peoples, in Africa and the UK among western countries. It’s aim is to deny women any sexual pleasure and to prevent her straying in her marriage. The fact that it makes intercourse with her husband a ghastly event is not an issue. Also, there is belief among the most stupid of these people (…that’s a lot…) that it makes the child grow tall and gracious instead of short and dumpy. Makes for a better marriage you see.

Children are of course the parents pension, which encourages black women to knock out as many as they can. Nature answers back with malaria, etc, to keep the numbers at a manageable level. It also explains why African children are placed on a plane by themselves and sent abroad. They might not receive much contact from their parents until they are of working age, but they can be assured that from that day onwards, parental begging letters will follow them wherever they go.

The marvellous combination of cultural diversity and a Stone Age mentality, what ! The human race is all the better for it, we are told by smug middle class intellectuals in their comfy Northern hemisphere homes…

28 June 2012 at 17:57  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "Once again, it is individual religious identity must give way to secular state orthodoxy. As JS Mill might put it, we once again observe the tyranny of the majority."

I doubt he'd have put it that way in this case. Adults mutiliating themselves would fall into his ideas of diverse lifestyles and eccentricity, but this is more about babies and whether the State should intervene to protect them from their parents.

28 June 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. Are there any here who would extend religious freedom to precolumbian rites in Latin America, or to some pre-Roman Celtic rites, both if which involved human sacrifice?

Excellent old fellow. You made the Inspector grin. But there is rather a taste of scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, don’t you think ?

28 June 2012 at 18:12  
Blogger len said...

Those who complain about the circumcision of an infant but heartily endorse abortion of the same surely cannot fail to see the hypocrisy of their position?.

Circumcision was a physical sign of a Covenant people and a forerunner of the' circumcision' which could only take place after the Cross of Calvary.

'In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ.(Colossians 2:11)

28 June 2012 at 19:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "Those who complain about the circumcision of an infant but heartily endorse abortion of the same surely cannot fail to see the hypocrisy of their position?."

Does anyone heartily endorse abortion? Anyway, the two issues are quite different unless one is religious.

28 June 2012 at 19:10  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Dear Lord, Inspector, can you kick the casual racism into the long grass? I mean, you make a valid point but when you add in phrases like "there is belief among the most stupid of these people (...that's a lot...)".
So they are not as well informed on matters biological, but it is their belief. I it was down to what can be proved acceptable through science then many people might argue that you and I have no right to believe in God!

I have real issues with FGM as it is not for religious reasons, merely cultural claims for fidelity in later life. Male circumcision, particularly with Jews, is a specific command from their deity to set themselves apart from the rest of the world.

And the worrying thing is that if banning male circumcision happens in Germany and is then upheld by ECHR (which will be brought in either way, I would imagine) then we will see it happening in the UK. And the next step from not being allowed to do anything physical to your child is not being allowed to do anything mental to your child. Which would mean no Sunday School, no child attendance at church and no telling your children to believe in God in your own home.
Trust me, if ECHR come down against circumcision then atheists will be looking at ways to make the same happen with religious teaching to children!

28 June 2012 at 19:27  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

and DanJ0

What's the problem for you with male circumcision?

It hardly mutilates the body! Some say it makes the penis more, not less, attractive. I cannot comment on this.

According to some 'experts', male circumcision desensitises the penis, makes masturbation more difficult and prolongs the sex act. Are these outcomes so bad? It does cause severe pain at the time but 8 week old infants face worse at the hands of the NHS for health reasons.

Given its minor effects (not comparable to child sacrifice or chopping off a little finger!) and it is a millenia old practice of two large faith groups, what business is it of the State?

28 June 2012 at 19:27  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

"Anyway, the two issues are quite different unless one is religious."

Umm, how? Either life is sacred in all forms or it's not. To say that it is ok to kill life but not cause brief pain is just insane!

28 June 2012 at 19:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta. Do you want end FGM. By that the Inspector means an END to it ? Good, we all do. Now, what you need to do is to point out to examples whoare not as well informed on matters biological, than the rest of us exactly the kind of evil they are committing. You don’t do that by patting them on the back and saying “We know it’s your belief but”. They way you do it is to grab them by the throat...

The Inspector’s authority: British Colonial Policy from a hundred and more years ago. Just like ‘Hovis’ it’s as good now as it was then.

Of course, biblical types as yourself were welcomed, or rather tolerated, so long as you did not interfere with colonial administration policy.

Carry on...

28 June 2012 at 19:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Given its minor effects (not comparable to child sacrifice or chopping off a little finger!) and it is a millenia old practice of two large faith groups, what business is it of the State?"

Two points there.

If it's done for religious reasons then it's not a medical intervention and the infant obviously did not consent to the mutilation, it's irreversable, and some adults are really not happy that it was done to them.

The two large faith groups thing is what I was getting at in my earlier question. Does mere tradition make it alright? Does the fact that religion is involved somehow raise the stakes beyond what we'd normally accept?

28 June 2012 at 19:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Youthpasta: "Umm, how? Either life is sacred in all forms or it's not. To say that it is ok to kill life but not cause brief pain is just insane!"

That's exactly what animal rights proponents say too. Unless you're a vegan and you eschew medicines and some procedures, you're on dubious ground there.

28 June 2012 at 19:50  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Children being aborted experience pain - fact!

28 June 2012 at 19:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. Does the fact that religion is involved somehow raise the stakes beyond what we'd normally accept?

And here we have your interest. Secularism. Can’t help yourself can you. And of course secularism forgives homosexuality. So your religion is secularism. Like the Jews who embraced Marxism because they were understandably fearful of pogroms, and Marxism didn’t allow for pogroms....

You are somewhat an open book these days, aren’t you...

28 June 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Hazel said...

As JS Mill might put it, we once again observe the tyranny of the majority.

Except that he was smart enough to realise that the 'majority' does not always equal 'the state'.

... there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

On liberty 1.5


I wouldn't assume him as an ally if I were you.

28 June 2012 at 20:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Good grief, it’s Hazel, “Woman of mystery”

Inspector hopes he finds you well, my dear....

28 June 2012 at 20:18  
Blogger Hazel said...

I am fine, Inspector. Thank you.

28 June 2012 at 20:24  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 June 2012 at 20:25  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

As Christians we should not have an issue with circumcision being banned.

I do not see how we can make an argument against female circumcision (bad) but male circumcision is OK (if your religion allows it). There will always be those that say that female circumcision is part of their heritage, cultural belief etc.

Both are mutilations, unnecessary and as Christians we should be standing up for the child

Phil

28 June 2012 at 20:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel, jolly good show !

Inspector remembers the last time you posted here you were contemplating going to a pub to get laid by a stranger. One hopes you are in better form these days...

28 June 2012 at 20:27  
Blogger Albert said...

Clearly there are a lot of difficulties here. There are many who understandably think this practice is wrong. Several questions arise: whether they have the right to impose that view on other people. Secondly, whether making it illegal will really put a stop to it. Thirdly, whether it makes sense to worry about the foreskin in a procedure which can clearly be argued to bring benefits to the child anyway (the comparison with FGM seems misplaced). Fourthly, whether a society which aborts children with impunity is really in a position to pontificate. Fifthly, whether, given that Jews are able to circumcise in every country in the world, Germany is really the country to "lead the way" on this.

It will lead to backstreet circumcisions and more suffering for the children the law is trying to protect. No one who supports abortion to prevent backstreet abortions can support it. Consequently, it does look like an unwarranted and irrational attack on religious freedom, at the expense of the children it pretends to protect, in the name of extended secularism.

28 June 2012 at 20:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "And here we have your interest. Secularism. Can’t help yourself can you. And of course secularism forgives homosexuality."

And so the Inspector raises the subject of homosexuality again, and tries to start the trouble off for later, again.

28 June 2012 at 20:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Hazel: "I wouldn't assume him as an ally if I were you."

Well, quite.

28 June 2012 at 20:41  
Blogger Hazel said...

Inspector,

Goodness me, what am impression I appear to have made!

For the curious: Last time I was here I made a joke about getting out more (as light relief during an intellectual argument)... and later had to gently tell off a certain official for focusing on my sex.

28 June 2012 at 20:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel, Interesting that, going back in time. And look, it’s the same three Jews !

Anyway, what fun it is to have you back !

28 June 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, poor show !

You are the original one trick pony, and that’s what you are doing on this site. You are hardly here to debate the differences in the Christian churches.

Inspector feeling particularly mentally powerful tonight. You see, his weekend starts here. He has to go in to push broom for an hour tomorrow, but the rest of the day is his...

28 June 2012 at 20:55  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Good grief, Inspector! Is it beyond your comprehension to show any and all people at least a little dignity when you speak about them?
I wouldn't care so much, indeed I would happily ignore you, but you claim to speak as a Christian and yet, as I have mentioned many times of late, you treat people that you disagree with with such disdain that you often undermine the faith you claim to ascribe to!
And as to FGM, yes I want to see an end to it, but I want to do it in a way that is respectful to those that do practice it. And respectful does not mean we simply let them get on with it, but it does mean educating them as equals rather than this idiotic imperialism that you espouse so frequently!

@Dan - No, for we are now talking about differing levels of consciousness. Indeed, from a Christian perspective, we differentiate between animals and humans because humans have a soul and are made in the image of God. However, if you are an atheist I can see how this argument would be inconvenient for you as it would mean veganism with road kill would be the logical outcome.

28 June 2012 at 22:00  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Phil Roberts said...
"As Christians we should not have an issue with circumcision being banned."

Oh dear!

Male circumcision, unlike female circumcision, is an intricate part of Jewish and Muslim religions. It has not been shown to be harmful or to have lasting negative effects.

Surely this is the tip (excuse the pun) of a much wider agenda to attack religion by secularists. The argument in the German Court was as much based on preventing parents choosing their child's religion as it was on the assault argument.

28 June 2012 at 22:16  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Youthpasta -

the inspector is a good Catholic, and like all good Catholics knows that there is a difference between treating certain ideas with distain and treating those who hold them with distain. Unfortunately, the difference was lost to the heretics sometime after the Reformation. As were a good many other things.

28 June 2012 at 22:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta, And as to FGM, yes I want to see an end to it, but I want to do it in a way that is respectful to those that do practice it.

Big mistake there. You don’t respect types that practice FGM. You DESPISE them, and you make damn sure they know it. if you don’t they’ll only go and do it behind your back.

You are making a typically liberalist mistake. You confuse western civilisation with the lesser races subsistence regime. Now that’s not very bright is it ?

You are a Christian, but you are not a Christian soldier, prepared to do what is necessary to spread and uphold the faith. No doubt this truth will irritate you, so you might want to light a candle for the Inspector. Pray that God guides his soul...

28 June 2012 at 22:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Good man Corrigan. Have you noticed how Anglicans want to worship God, but only if that’s alright with everybody else...

28 June 2012 at 22:39  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil Roberts

As Christians we should not have an issue with circumcision being banned.

We have a HUGE issue with circumcision being banned if the stated reason is because circumcision is inherently an assault and a mutilation. The Law required circumcision. To declare circumcision morally wrong is to make an implicit accusation against the God who gave the Law. Trust me. The atheists floating around this weblog understand that logic quite well.

carl

28 June 2012 at 22:42  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"If it's done for religious reasons then it's not a medical intervention and the infant obviously did not consent to the mutilation, it's irreversable, and some adults are really not happy that it was done to them."

Rather strong and emotive word "mutilation", wouldn't you say? Male circumcision is a minor procedure with some but hardly serious outcomes. And who are these men who are "really not happy it was done to them"? It's a bit like the "survivors from Catholicism" you constantly drag up to lend weight to your argument.

"The two large faith groups thing is what I was getting at in my earlier question. Does mere tradition make it alright? Does the fact that religion is involved somehow raise the stakes beyond what we'd normally accept?"

What makes it acceptable, given it causes no significant harm, the threshhold for State intervention in overriding parental rights, is responsibility of parents to raise their children in accordance with the faith they follow, including no faith. It's not "mere tradition". This just shows your distain for faith. For the Jew and the Muslim parent it is a sacred duty.

28 June 2012 at 22:42  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

Do you think the issue is as serious as you state? An accussation against God? As Christians we have moved on from the Old Law. There is much in Leviticus, God's Law too, that we would consider as unacceptable and/or unnecessary today.

28 June 2012 at 22:51  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Inspector, ever heard of "hate the sin, love the sinner"? I'm pretty sure some circumcised chappy from a while back in the Middle East spoke about it.

28 June 2012 at 23:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta. Now that falls apart when the sinner is intent on continuing to commit the sin. Jesus would tell you that...

28 June 2012 at 23:31  
Blogger len said...

You would think listening to some of the comments here that there are' good' sinners and 'bad 'sinners a sort of sliding scale used by God to determine ones 'sin level'.

According to God we are all sinners (Romans 3:23)' for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.'
I wonder why the only person who was without sin and who was perfectly entitled to judge sinners never did so?.Perhaps because those in a' fallen condition 'however hard they tried not to sin ended up sinning not because they wanted to sin but because their very nature drove them to sin.

So what is needed is a new nature not inclined to sin instead of constantly condemning sinners for sinning( which is a rather pointless exercise.)

Would you condemn a dog for being a dog and doing' dog things' and wish he was a racehorse instead and behave like a racehorse?.Yes.... it would be a rather pointless exercise but I see it happening every day here.
The new birth the new creation is God`s plan for the salvation of Humanity and this is what the World needs to hear!.

28 June 2012 at 23:43  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Inspector, it doesn't fall apart at all! Just because someone is sinning, intentionally or otherwise, does not give you a right to hate them and feel justified in your faith for doing so. Jesus never said we were allowed to hate people, he said love them. That doesn't mean accepting everything they do, nor does it mean that you should not discipline where appropriate. But "in all things" love! Hence I chastise you now, not out of hatred towards your person (although with a hell of a lot of frustration) but love.

29 June 2012 at 00:16  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len

Have you ever raised children? I ask because I really do wonder how you would distinguish between right and wrong and form their consciences and their character.

For goodness sake man, wake up! As a Christian you have a duty to name sin for what it is. No one is saying condemn the sinner. But for God's sake condemn the sin. St Paul had no inhibitions about this. Why have you? Jesus also said He upheld His Father's Law. Jesus also spoke frequently in His parables of a Judgement to come.

We are not dogs. We have minds and reason. We are responsible for our behaviour. You can't believe its a question of waiting for a new nature to be given to us. Can you?

29 June 2012 at 01:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Youthpasta: "@Dan - No, for we are now talking about differing levels of consciousness."

With the other issue, too, I think you'll find. In fact, that's a core thing. But I've argued that over and over in the past and don't intend to do it in detail here again.

"Indeed, from a Christian perspective, we differentiate between animals and humans because humans have a soul and are made in the image of God."

Yes. However, that's not going count a jot for non-Christians in the other issue. There's no evidence for it at all. Nothing.

Yet almost everyone, except some off-the-wall Cartesians, recognises that non-human animals to varying degrees have consciousness and appear to demonstrate emotional lives and so on. They also have interests and a welfare like we do.

"However, if you are an atheist I can see how this argument would be inconvenient for you as it would mean veganism with road kill would be the logical outcome."

The issue of road kill is a common one in animal rights and well-argued there. Morally, it's a non-issue. Of course, most vegans don't need to eat meat so it's just an aesthetics thing since the road kill is food for other animals.

29 June 2012 at 06:57  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "It's not "mere tradition". This just shows your distain for faith."

I'm not required to respect the content of your religious belief at all. It's enough that I respect your right to hold them. I clearly have some disdain for faith. For me, as an atheist, this is mere tradition in its essence. How can it be otherwise? Also, I bet you have some disdain for the content of (say) Mormom faith too.

I understand the importance of religious belief to some people though. For those people, this is a core thing even if I think it can be destructive. It'd be a big step for me to insist on intervening to stop a tradition like that.

It's wrong to mutilate babies just for religious reasons but that must be balanced with the wrong involved in fundamentally undermining a religious group like this would. Also, the likely consequences must be taken into account, I think.

29 June 2012 at 07:10  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

@Dan - Mutilate is defined thus - "1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple."
Your use of it in relation to male circumcision is clearly false.

As to the stuff about sanctity of life:
As a Christian I believe that animals are not of the same level as humans due to humans being made in the image of God. Thus killing of animals for food, something declared by God to be perfectly acceptable after the flood, is completely different to the killing of babies in the womb.
Going on the assumption that atheists would tend to go with Darwin and the view that humans are animals like any other, maiming should still be in the same order as killing unborn children. After all, it is about harming the defenceless. Just because an child has yet to be born does not make it any less alive. And additionally, the logic of this position SHOULD lead to veganism. The only reason that it would not is if you the throw in the argument if "survival of the fittest", but the this leads back to the idea of I'd you are not able to defend yourself then you can have anything done to you, thus making the choice of a parent to have their child circumcised no different to telling a child to eat their vegetables.

29 June 2012 at 08:16  
Blogger David B said...

@Carl who said

"To declare circumcision morally wrong is to make an implicit accusation against the God who gave the Law..."

Nonsense! your statement implies on the one hand the existence of a God and on the other hand that, given such a God, that God gave the law.

How often, on these boards and other places on the internet, to we see atheists castigated for criticising literal interpretations of ancient scripture, with a condescending 'that isn't the God I believe in...yatter yatter yatter... some sort of ground of being...yatter yatter...love....yatter yatter...'

Many theists, by their own accounts, believe in a God who is not a law giver at all, and further, do not believe in the laws of Leviticus et al.

Quite right, too, since the laws of Leviticus are in many cases barking mad.

No, to declare circumcision morally wrong is to make an implicit accusation against some or all of the following:-

The men who put such brutality into the mouth of their putative God.

The people who continue to take literal interpretations of ancient texts as the word of this putative God as a good moral guide in the 21st century.

Those who do not believe that God actually commanded circumcision, or that it was moral, but have a respect for Faith, no matter what Faith, no matter if it is a faith they share or not, that they value any faith above human decency, and any principle that implies that people should be free to choose their own religion or not.

David

29 June 2012 at 09:02  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

David, you are arguing a false argument. Circumcision is practiced, for religious reasons, by 2 faiths who believe that God told them to do it. As such to declare it morally wrong IS to declare that same God is morally suspect. That is a hell of an accusation to throw about.

29 June 2012 at 09:23  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 June 2012 at 09:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta. The Inspector is uncomfortable you chose to introduce the ‘hate’ word, and so should you be. He used the word ‘despise’ which is a healthy attitude to take against sin and the sinner doing it. It all comes down to disciplining the miscreant. You take effective measures, against FGM in this case, and it in no way reduces the love you have for that person. It’s the contrary, you are showing them you love them enough to care and that they desist in their evil. It is evil, isn’t it ?

29 June 2012 at 09:37  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Merely following on the thought process from "hate the sin, love the sinner". And, sadly, your use of the term "despise" is equally unchristian as we should not be showing contempt for the person, merely the action. Changing the word does not make your attitude any better!

29 June 2012 at 09:49  
Blogger David B said...

Interesting article on this topic in 'Practical Ethics' from which I quote.

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2012/06/religion-is-no-excuse-for-mutilating-your-babys-penis/

"As I have in a previous post, I’ll close with anthropologist Donald Symons’ unforgettable words. He refers in this passage to female circumcision, but the underlying point holds equally for males:

If only one person in the world held down a terrified, struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed her back up … the only question would be how severely that person should be punished, and whether the death penalty would be a sufficiently severe sanction. But when millions of people do this, instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly it becomes “culture,” and thereby magically becomes less, rather than more, horrible…

“Culture” cannot justify the nonconsensual genital cutting of babies. Neither can religion. Even if I sincerely believed that the creator of the universe had commanded me to remove genital tissue from my son without his permission, I would have to decline on ethical grounds. “God told me to do it” is simply not an acceptable replacement for moral reasoning in the modern era. The German court ruled rightly."

Exactly!

David

29 June 2012 at 10:05  
Blogger David B said...

Youth Pasta, I do not declare that any putative God is morally suspect, since to my mind there is no God to be morally suspect.

David B

29 June 2012 at 10:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Youthpasta, the "1." part of your definition is a key indicator there, I think. There's also a lot of assumptions in your following argument which I'll point out later when I'm at a computer.

29 June 2012 at 10:11  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert @ 20:32,

Thanks Albert; You've saved me the effort of posting a comment.

29 June 2012 at 10:15  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

Your argument seems to hinge on the division between ethical behaviour on the one hand and religiously-motivated behaviour on the other. Am I right in thinking that you view the latter as being, in some sense, a suspension of the former?

I ask because it seems you have a very clear ethical framework in mind that provides, prima facie, universal opposition to circumcision, but I cannot help but notice that this is in itself not enormously different from a system of absolute morality.

It's worth pointing out, as others have, that as abominable as the practice is, many cultures consider female genital mutilation to be an important act within their own ethical system; not all of which use exclusively (or even principally) religious grounds to justify it. The practice was, for instance, prevalent in Ancient Rome - and it is rare to see an argument that the Romans lacked an ethical system.

As it happens, I largely agree with many of the principles of the system of ethics you've articulated on this blog, and share your commitment to them as principles which apply across the board - in other words that they are moral.

29 June 2012 at 11:24  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl said ...

"To declare circumcision morally wrong is to make an implicit accusation against the God who gave the Law. Trust me. The atheists floating around this weblog understand that logic quite well."

Having read the comments this morning from our friends DanJ0 and David B, I now agree with you.

A minor procedure with no demonstrable long term effects on health or wellbeing, undertaken in the name of faith, is suddenly becoming "mutilation", "mere tradition", proof a moral God does not exist, and a general attack on religion.

Let's ban all cosmetic medical and dental procedures for children. Some are "brutal", "extremely painful" and the child has not consented. Or is the "body beautiful" and looking "fabulous" more immportant than one's immortal soul?

29 June 2012 at 11:28  
Blogger David B said...

Looking through Albert's post above, the one point he makes that really gives me cause for thought is the one about driving circumcisions underground, and causing more suffering and more risk.

I can see a case for saying that if juvenile circumcisions should be legal, which I am far from persuaded about, then they should legally only be done by qualified medical personnel who can do the job properly.

As an aside, one might say the same about assisted suicide.

In some cases that might indeed save some children from the direst effects of circumcision, but would such a law actually prevent circumcision being done by non medical people?

Not in the case of some Orthodox Jewish sects, I think.

Look at the following case, where a poor kid got herpes because a Rabbi sucked the blood off the circumcised penis.

http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/07/how-11-new-york-city-babies-contracted-herpes-through-circumcision/

"The report is sure to reignite a long-simmering debate over public health and religious liberties: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday that 11 baby boys in New York City were infected with herpes between Nov. 2000 and Dec. 2011 following an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh — or oral suction — in which the mohel puts his mouth directly on the newborn’s circumcised penis and sucks away the blood.

Ten of the babies were hospitalized, at least two developed brain damage and two died, according to the New York City health department. In 2005, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked rabbis throughout the city to move away from performing metzitzah b’peh — and also issued an open letter [PDF] to the Jewish community warning of the health risks — but they refused claiming the practice was safe."

If some bloke cut off a bit of a kid's penis and then sucked the blood off, giving him herpes, in any other than a religious format, would it or should it be tolerated by society?

I think not.

Such cases, to me, simply reinforce the idea that undue deference to religion/culture is a very bad idea.

David B

29 June 2012 at 11:29  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

It was the New York case I had in mind - I think I read about it in Hitchens' God is not Great.

Now imagine circumcision is illegal in Germany. No Jews are going to take any notice of that. So it will still carry on, only when it goes wrong (which is will do more often now) the parents will be slow to take the child to the hospital. Which will mean more deaths.

Now place this in the context in which society has abortions because of the medical risks of backstreet abortions, and you can see that the rationale of this is not about placing the well-being of children first.

29 June 2012 at 11:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, there's a paternalistic element involved. Cosmetic surgery is done in the interests of the child. If parents put their child through cosmetic surgery for other reasons then something wrong is going on. Of course, an Orthodox Jew presumably believes religious circumcision is actually in the best interests of the child. But is that enough? Afterall, some proponents of female genital mutilation probably think it's in the best interests of the child too.

29 June 2012 at 11:56  
Blogger Albert said...

Doing a little research on the origins on this practice, I came across a paragraph which may shed light on how this ban will go down among Germany's Jews:

Like Jewish identity itself, circumcision carries a dual significance, both ethnic and religious. It is the Jewish male’s quintessential sign of ethnic belonging and biological lineage. Though only a small percentage of Jews today consider themselves believers in any traditional sense, nearly every Jewish male undergoes circumcision. Indeed, circumcision is the most popular custom observed among our people.

It's not just religious Jews who are going to worry about this. Many are going to regard it as racist. They will carry on anyway and Germany will either have to prosecute them (for being Jews as it will come across) or let it happen in less adequate conditions and without recourse to proper medical care afterwards.

The idea that Muslims are on mass going to take any notice of secular court on this, is of course, utterly naive.

Is it ever possible to get those who take pleasure in shutting down religious freedoms to face the human reality of the situation (which they clearly have no interest in understanding), for the sake of the children they pretend to be protecting?

29 June 2012 at 12:19  
Blogger Albert said...

Sorry, I'm too Catholic. I mean en masse!

29 June 2012 at 12:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Afterall, some proponents of female genital mutilation probably think it's in the best interests of the child too.

This comparison with FGM is misplaced. Male circumcision is not normally harmful and may even be beneficial (I think I read that 55% of US men are circumcised). It will become more harmful if it is banned. FGM is clearly harmful.

29 June 2012 at 12:26  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Cosmetic surgery is done in the interests of the child"

Forgive me, but according to what system of beauty and/or wellbeing?

A cleft palate is the obvious example - it makes eating and drinking incredibly difficult, and is therefore an issue of basic functionality; though not exclusively. What about corrective surgery to non-functional defects?

Is the purpose to make all children like all the other children? To prevent them enduring the torment of physical difference?

If so, what about cultures that tattoo, body-pierce, or body distort (boarding/neck extension etc.) babies? Are we not seeing a similar perogative? We could certainly apply the same objections: non-consent, potential danger for infection etc.

The fact is, that male circumcision would simply not be questioned in a society where the majority of people have it - Israel and Arabic nations yes, but also in the USA where the practice is, I understand, prevalent even amongst non-Jewish and non-Islamic men. It is questionable in Germany because it is an act that marks Jewish boys out as different from the rest of the population: and this is, indeed, the entire point of it - to act as a sign of separation, of a special Covenant with God. In short, it is offensive because "civilised people" don't do it here.

Everyone seems to be recoiling in horror from FGM - and I with them. We object in the first instance because the act itself is invasive and painful; though we do not object to other invasive and painful measures to bring our own offspring up to our own normative standard. But our primary objection, it seems to me, is that it deprives women of sexual pleasure through the clitoris. I too share this objection, believing that pleasure is purposed by God for the sanctity of marriage (just to be clear - not to start a tangent on marriage). But if we actually look at the reasons for FGM as expressed by those who practice it, their rationale is not enormously different from our own, albeit in a very different value system. As you say they "think it's in the best interests of the child too".

It acts firstly to create a normative female body, and secondly corresponds to a different hierarchy of values. The West generally places sexuality, and sexual pleasure, at the height of its value system; FGM practitioners, including those who underwent FGM themselves, very often place their idea of motherhood above that of sexuality - it is the most crucial aspect of their identity. They are, if you will, filled with "Pride" for their fundamental identity as mothers, and desire this trait for their daughters.

My point is not to argue that they are right or justified; or to suggest that the existence of differing ethical and cultural systems should lead us to renounce any possibility of objective morality. It is to observe that what is going on in Germany and this thread is not so much the application of an ethical system as it is the raising of a particular ethical perspective to the standard of a moral system.

As someone who subscribes to a moral system myself, I mean no offense to your faculties in saying this. I simply suggest that there is more to Germany's decision than an ethical objection, let alone an ethical objection that is self-evident.

29 June 2012 at 12:36  
Blogger Marcus Foxall said...

Ninety-one comments on HM and Sinn Fein , which affects British and Irish Christians.
Ninety-five comments on an overseas matter which does not(not directly , anyway ) affect Christians in these Isles. Interesting....

29 June 2012 at 13:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

The fact is, that male circumcision would simply not be questioned in a society where the majority of people have it - Israel and Arabic nations yes, but also in the USA where the practice is, I understand, prevalent even amongst non-Jewish and non-Islamic men. It is questionable in Germany because it is an act that marks Jewish boys out as different from the rest of the population: and this is, indeed, the entire point of it - to act as a sign of separation, of a special Covenant with God. In short, it is offensive because "civilised people" don't do it here.

Excellent comment. German Jews are having their freedoms limited because most Germans do not do what Jews do.

I don't expect this was racist in its intent, but it is racist in its effects. The need of some people to force everyone to be the same is very disturbing.

29 June 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB, I simply trying to draw a distinction between procedures specifically aimed at benefitting the baby or child, and procedures done to suit the opinions or beliefs or desires of the parents. In particular, I was thinking about thngs like hare lips, burned tissue, disfiguring birth marks, and the like. I take your point to some extent about social notions of beauty or acceptability but there's usually more to it than that. Some of these things can have a profound impact on the development of personality and therefore life chances. Heck, I know of a teenager who has severe acne and it is destroying his confidence. He's undergoing medical treatment now, which has potential side effects, to treat what is essentially a damaging skin condition rather than just a phase of growing up.

29 June 2012 at 13:36  
Blogger Albert said...

I don't think you can let yourself off the hook that easily Dan.

You made three points (1156):
(i) Cosmetic surgery for the good the child.
(ii) The possibility that circumcision is considered by Jewish parents to be for the good of the child.
(iii) But FGM is also considered good by some parents.

The comparison of (ii) & (iii) is phony, so you are left with imposing your view that circumcision isn't in the child's interests. It's not your child Dan. It's not your place to impose your particular political/metaphysical/moral world-view.

We know that a religious upbringing brings huge benefits to children (see a Guardian article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/31/oliver-james-religion-addictive-behaviour). Should we impose religion on non-religious parents on the evidential grounds that they would otherwise be guilty of neglecting their children?

Stop dictating to tell everyone else how to live their lives. Some people are not atheists. Get over it.

29 June 2012 at 13:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

7.10am, so sling your creepy hook.

29 June 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger David B said...

@ Belfast, with asides addressing some points made by others

"Your argument seems to hinge on the division between ethical behaviour on the one hand and religiously-motivated behaviour on the other. Am I right in thinking that you view the latter as being, in some sense, a suspension of the former?"

You are right to a degree. Off course some religiously motivated ethics work hand in hand with, for want of a better word, humanist ethics.

If one takes some sort of religious axiom as absolute, then it does, I think, lead to a suspension of the former, but so does taking any ideological axiom as absolute lead to such a suspension, whether the 'state first and only' stance of some of the communist regimes, or the absolute libertarian stance of Ayn Rand, and other American libertarians, atheist or religious.

Being unable to think outside a cultural box I see as something of an ethical failure, too.

"I ask because it seems you have a very clear ethical framework in mind that provides, prima facie, universal opposition to circumcision..."

I am opposed to circumcision, male or female, unless there are very strong medical reasons to the contrary.

It may interest you to know male circumcision is one of the most contentious topics on freethought message boards, with many Americans in particularly finding it hard to agree that they have in fact been damaged by it, or that their loving parents have in fact damaged them.

There are arguments that the practise is relatively harmless, even good, but other arguments saying that it is actually much more damaging than many think it is.

I am persuaded that it is much more damaging than many on this blog, and many American atheists, have been led to believe.

For fear of running out of space I shall continue in another post

David B

29 June 2012 at 15:17  
Blogger Albert said...

So we're agreed, are we Dan? We wouldn't do circumcision to our own children, but the state shouldn't be "involved in fundamentally undermining a religious group like this would" by banning circumcision. That's your view. Yes?

29 June 2012 at 15:17  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said...

"7.10am, so sling your creepy hook."

No comment to make then ....?

29 June 2012 at 15:28  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I think that those PCTs that do fund religious and ritual circumcision on the NHS should no longer do so. They should have to charge for it. I take it they are the PCTs in areas where there are now high numbers or a majority of jews and muslims. This shows how our country is changing and going backwards.

We are a Christian country and other religions should be secondary here, male circumcision is not part of our religion and since we have adequate washing facilities boys are no longer circumcised for hygiene reasons.
Of course they can always go back to the Middle East if they want this done to their child. In this day of equality why do the jews want to be so different anyway I ask myself? I thought they weren't too keen on being labelled a jew in the not too distant past!

29 June 2012 at 15:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0:

As it happens I agree with you regarding why "cosmetic surgery" can be justified, but would point out that there is a difference between effects directly arising from a defect, and indirectly arising because of a "defect".

A physical abnormality that can lead to infection or illness can obviously be justified in being treated in any situation or culture. It is straighforward that an open sore may lead to more serious illness. In that sense, we can start outright by condemning the elements of practices that carry a high risk of causing long-term injury. Cutting off the labia with a razor is a dangerous act in any culture. Same too with the foreskin and mouth-to-genital contact.

But this in itself does not get either of us off the hook in rejecting the practice as a whole, simply because we do not reject principally "cosmetic" proceedures when they are done safely.

There is surgical circumcision. FGM can be done cleanly and surgically - and indeed it has historically been performed in the West by doctors (albeit extremely rarely). Likewise, it is theoretically possible that metzitzah b’peh could be performed by someone keeping rigorous check on his own oral health, much as it is possible to take responsibility for one's sexual health when having risky forms of sex.

A birthmark on the other hand may have no such risk of infection at any point in life - indeed, the most risky path, even when carried out cleanly and surgically, is to have it removed. The harm that arises from it *not* being removed derives from cultural attitudes regarding what is perceived as disfigurement. As someone who, probably like yourself, believes that the disabled and the disfigured should never be treated contemptuously, I would rather strive to have a society in which nobody will inflict harm in this manner. That said, it is still psychologically difficult to come to terms with physical difference - even a perfectly tolerant society could find justification on those grounds for carrying out "cosmetic" surgery. I wonder though, would we not, if arguing solely from the basis of consent, have to conclude that only the individual in question is competent to decide whether or not they need it?

As it happens, I think parents are perfectly justified in acting in the best interests of their children as they perceive them - excepting behaviours that will clearly lead to physical harm. The law, as far as I see it, should primarily engage in the means by which practices are carried out. That means that Germany, or New York, would be quite justified in demanding that circumcision only occurs in safe, sterile conditions by professionally-trained individuals. They are also, in my view, quite justified in seeking to prevent FGM on babies for Types II-IV, because all of them involve a direct loss of functionality (sexual pleasure) which is not the case with male circumcision. On the other hand, should, for cultural or religious reasons, an individual decide to undertake this surgery in later life, however much I may disagree (cf. mutiliation of the image of God), I cannot find sufficient reason to prevent them from doing so.

This is actually quite important, as many FGM cultures, contrary to popular perception, do not carry out the proceedure at birth, but during adolescence.

29 June 2012 at 15:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

Thanks for the reply. One minor question:

"Being unable to think outside a cultural box I see as something of an ethical failure, too."

Do you suggest it is possible for there to be a form of "neutral" ethics then? I don't simply mean being able to understand multiple cultural and religious perspectives, but actually being able to conduct ethical thinking entirely detached from them, in the philosophical equivalent of a Faraday box?

If so, it rather suggests to me that there would have to be an underlying basic system of ethics, pre-existing, or at least capable of existing in perfect separation from culture. As someone who believes in principles of Natural Law, this doesn't particularly trouble me, but I just wonder if that's what you would have in mind as a humanist who refutes the existence of such things.

29 June 2012 at 15:39  
Blogger David B said...

@Belfast etc continued

"...but I cannot help but notice that this is in itself not enormously different from a system of absolute morality."

The question of absolutes again. I think my view has a significant difference from an absolute morality, as I shall try to explain.

Actually I don't think anyone but the most rabid absolutists really believe in an absolute morality.

Most people, I think, whether they acknowledge it or not, use some sort of evolved heuristic, to (in many cases at least) try to come up with the best compromise between often conflicting moral desiderata.

One of the most absolute commands in the Bible is 'thou shalt not kill', but very few would not sometimes think this needs over-riding, for self defence, or to defend an innocent child against someone caught in at of rape, or to defend their country against a Hitler.

My lack of absolute morality allows me to view an operation to fix a hare lip as a wise parental act, while seeing circumcision, male or female, as something best consigned to the waste bin of history

Is child protection an ethical desideratum? I'd say yes, but not absolutely. Not to the point where an operation to cure a hare lip is viewed wrong.

Is religious freedom a desideratum? Yes, but not absolutely. Allowing a child to die because of a religious objection to blood transfusion?

Freedom of speech? Of course, but not to the point of shouting fire in a crowded theatre.

Need I go on?

"It's worth pointing out, as others have, that as abominable as the practice is, many cultures consider female genital mutilation to be an important act within their own ethical system; not all of which use exclusively (or even principally) religious grounds to justify it. The practice was, for instance, prevalent in Ancient Rome - and it is rare to see an argument that the Romans lacked an ethical system."

As is the case regarding male circumcision in America, where it is culturally accepted. I still think it wrong, though.

Tolerance for other cultures is another desideratum, but not absolutely. I'll leave you to come up with your own example there - such examples are legion.

'As it happens, I largely agree with many of the principles of the system of ethics you've articulated on this blog, and share your commitment to them as principles which apply across the board - in other words that they are moral.'

Thank you.

I don't take the view that to deny an absolute morality is to deny morality, any more than a denial of absolute knowledge implies that many things cannot be known well enough.

David B

29 June 2012 at 15:42  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert

"Now imagine circumcision is illegal in Germany. No Jews are going to take any notice of that. So it will still carry on, only when it goes wrong (which is will do more often now) the parents will be slow to take the child to the hospital. Which will mean more deaths."

As I say, this does give pause for thought.

However, to refuse to condemn something purely on the grounds that some people will do it anyway, and in a worse way, seems to me to be something of a doctrine of despair.

I am not one of those cultural relativists who justifies everything on cultural grounds.

FGM?

Bear bating?

Forced marriages of children?

"Now place this in the context in which society has abortions because of the medical risks of backstreet abortions, and you can see that the rationale of this is not about placing the well-being of children first."

Two points -

1) The risks of backstreet abortions is A justification for abortion, but it is not the only justification for it.

2) It seems that you implicitly view a zygote as having the same moral standing as a child.

In the admittedly far fetched scenario of being in the position of being presented with the choice of saving from a fire a lot of as yet unimplanted fertilised eggs awaiting implants in a fertility clinic, against rescuing a single toddler in the same position I would take the toddler and leave the fertilised eggs rather than the other way round.

You?

David B

29 June 2012 at 15:57  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, no. That you're trying to push yet again there shows just how contemptible you really are given what I've said in the past about the situation. Is there nothing you won't do? Jesus Christ, you're a lowlife and no mistake.

29 June 2012 at 15:58  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 June 2012 at 16:27  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

However, to refuse to condemn something purely on the grounds that some people will do it anyway, and in a worse way, seems to me to be something of a doctrine of despair.

I agree, not least because I reject the backstreet argument when applied to abortion. It's the inconsistency that bothers me in this.

The risks of backstreet abortions is A justification for abortion, but it is not the only justification for it.

For some people it is the only justification of it. But the point is it is an invalid justification of it. However, if it is held with regard to abortion, it cannot be denied with regard to circumcision.

As one might wish to place the backstreet abortion argument within a wider context, so one would also need to place the backstreet circumcision argument within a wider context: the context of religious freedom, of ethnic identity, of the possible health benefits as compared with the limited health risks, the moral danger of imposing one world-view on people of another, the moral danger of imposing a law for no better reason that in German (as opposed to the US) circumcision is very unusual in the wider population. You put all that together in a context in an abortion context, and it doesn't seem consistent any more.

It seems that you implicitly view a zygote as having the same moral standing as a child.

Zygotes are not aborted.

In the admittedly far fetched scenario of being in the position of being presented with the choice of saving from a fire a lot of as yet unimplanted fertilised eggs awaiting implants in a fertility clinic, against rescuing a single toddler in the same position I would take the toddler and leave the fertilised eggs rather than the other way round.

I agree, because the eggs are not going to survive anyway - unless they are implanted - which they probably won't be.

29 June 2012 at 16:30  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

Sorry but you are wrong on this (Usually you are correct and I agree with you completely)

Consider this example.

The British banned the practice of Suttee in the Punjab soon after they annexed it. The British administrator at the time told them that everyone should live by their own laws so if you burn the widow we will hang everyone connected wit the crime!

He was called the “Brother of Satan” but he stuck to his guns and the evil practice was stamped out even though it was described as a “religious” practice

Do we as Christians stand up for the rights of all religions? Or just the Jews? Do we agree to sacrifice Virgins for pagans?

If we agree to male circumcision we must agree to female. Since we all agree that the latter is wrong then we cannot condone the former.

I see the slipper slope argument the hypocrisy one is more damaging to us in the long run.

As Christians we should view this objectively or not at all, as the whole practice is irrelevant to us except for the (unnecessary) pain and risk to the child.

Phil

29 June 2012 at 16:30  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@David B:

"Thou shalt not kill" is more accurately translated as "Thou shalt not murder". ("ratzákh" - to kill in a manner resulting in the shedding of innocent blood; and "phoneuó" in the Septuagint & Gospels, again to deliberately kill, to murder, which occurs only in the context of unlawful killing in the Bible, rather than killing per se).

In the instances you describe, use of force, even (if necessary) resulting in the death of the perpetrator, would not violate the commandment. On the other hand, vigilante killing, killing in cold-blood once the individual is subdued, or not upholding proper due process of law, would be a violation, and one which, in Levitical law, carried the death penalty.

It's interesting because once we remove the linguistic blurring, you would seem to share, broadly, the position of the absolutist stance on murder vs. killing - that one is never justified, whilst justification can be found for use of force in preventing evil acts.

I guess I just wonder how far your resistance to absolutism extends. As to your graduated scale, I quite agree, but would point out that barring the most extensive taboo system (and I'm afraid I have no knowledge as to whether such a thing exists in real life), pretty much all absolutist religions would operate in exactly the same way - Levitical attitudes to murder being a prime example.

You regard circumcision of children as always being wrong - principally, I assume, because they are incapable of giving consent to it. Is this not an absolute position on that single issue, and more generally on the value of consent? You suggest that not seeing corrective surgery to a harelip as a directly equivalent moral act is evidence of not being absolutist, but surely all this is evidence of is your own system of determining which issues require more "absolute" responses. The voice that sees the two as morally equivalent is different only in where they place the issue on the scale. That's why it seems to me quite important, especially if one is arguing towards a system of ethics that rejects traditional models of objective morality, to be absolutely certain that it is possible to be culturally neutral.

Certainly though, I'd agree that it is important to avoid absolutism that results from straight-forward ignorance. The view by some tribes practicing FGM, for instance, that a baby will die if it touches the clitoris during birth, is something that we can empirically refute. The idea, on the other hand, that FGM is essential to the identity of motherhood as understood in that culture, is not as easily countered, given that one cannot empirically demonstrate that one understanding of motherhood is more real than another. One would have to choose between cultural relativism - a position we both reject - or what amounts to arguing that "you are wrong, because I am right" (though I suspect neither of us would get anywhere if we presented it in those bald terms).

29 June 2012 at 16:40  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Phil:

That's why it's really important to determine not just that you oppose something, but to make clear why you oppose something.

There are plenty of models for opposing FGM but permitting male circumcision that have been aired in the comments; as well as some for opposing both. The basis on which each person does so is quite different in some instances, despite the fact that virtually everyone seems to want to reject FGM.

"If we agree to male circumcision we must agree to female. Since we all agree that the latter is wrong then we cannot condone the former."

If you are responding to the argument that male circumcision is justified solely on the grounds of religious expression, without recourse to other concerns, then yes, you would be correct in diagnosing a logical inconsistency. On the other hand, the disparity in our treatment of the two suggests that there are indeed other arguments we are bringing to the table in forming our decisions, not least the physical and philosophical differences between the two acts (if any).

David B's post (@15:42) covers this pretty well, actually, so I'll stop there :)

29 June 2012 at 16:50  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Youthpasta


..." ever heard of "hate the sin, love the sinner"? I'm pretty sure some circumcised chappy from a while back in the Middle East spoke about it"

Where did this "chap" say this? (Bible quote please.. you cannot find one.. it does not exist)

God hates the sin and condemns the sinner.

Only chance is Jesus

Phil

29 June 2012 at 17:00  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Phil - But God LOVES the sinner! Jesus never spoke about it directly, but everything that he spoke of pointed to it!

Marie - Are you suggesting that people who wish to practice a religion that is not the state-sponsored religion should pay to exercise their faith? You would try to make a profit from a person's beliefs? For shame!

29 June 2012 at 17:12  
Blogger David B said...

@ Belfast briefly

My opposition to killing does not include Shipmanesque mercy killing, but does extend to the Swiss or Dutch models which require consent.

Consent is, to me, an important but not absolute moral desideratum, which does not include infants receiving operations for hare lips, or indeed children being circumcised as the best treatment for certain rare medical conditions.

As I say, I see male circumcision as more damaging than some of its defenders seem to think, and that is one reason why I think preventing it more important than the desiderata of religious and cultural freedom. The issue of consent is another reason, though not an absolute one. The poverty of any rationales in its favour yet another.

Absolute certainty of cultural neutrality is as much beyond me as absolute moral injunctions, but one must do the best one can in this regard, I think.

My resistance to absolute morality comes from my rejection of platonic ideals as something that exist in the real world, and my rejection of the existence of any god who can invent, create or impose any absolute morality on the other.

Along with my failure to come up with any other rationale for an absolute morality, despite all my efforts to do so.

Morality as an emergent quality of the the universe, co-evolving with the life of social beings is my current view on the matter.

But hey, science is subject to change, but we can judge well enough that the sun does not go around the earth.

Morality is, IMV, relative and subject to change, but that does not - does it? - mean that we can't judge well enough that slavery is an evil.

We should do the best we can to come up with good moral decisions is the nearest I come to any sort of absolutism, but even that I regard as a good rule of thumb, with no good arguments against it.

David B

29 June 2012 at 17:48  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 June 2012 at 18:23  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Youthpasta

"But God LOVES the sinner! Jesus never spoke about it directly, but everything that he spoke of pointed to it!"

God does not love the sinner......Nowhere does it say that.... cealrly the Bible disagrees with you but you still insist that it is true.

I have heard the "God loves the sinner but hates the sin" mantra so many times. I always challenge for it is not true. Maybe it is in the lost "liberal Gospel" with the Female God and Abortion a Blessing that for the Liberal CofE seems to be standard doctrine!

In many years no-one has found anything suppporting the doctrine of "God loves the sinner but hates the sin", but please show me where I am wrong and Jesus did say that or point to it

Phil

29 June 2012 at 18:30  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Youthpasta”Marie - Are you suggesting that people who wish to practice a religion that is not the state-sponsored religion should pay to exercise their faith? You would try to make a profit from a person's beliefs? For shame!”

Well I was just saying only for circumcisions, but now that you mention it's not a bad idea to curb the proliferation of mosques, temples, synagogues. Pay to pray. They'd have a contract that they would have to adhere too. NO street praying and no threatening the host country and its police force with hate and annihilation etc....

29 June 2012 at 18:46  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

If there are no moral absolutes, doesn't that mean that every moral claim can be trumped by another moral claim? In fact, if there are no moral absolutes, doesn't that mean that every moral claim can be trumped by a non-moral claim. And isn't that ultimately the same as having no morality, just a series of expedient power-bids?

29 June 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

" ... just how contemptible you really ... you're a lowlife and no mistake."

Yeah, yeah; I'm a lowlife, the Inspector is a repressed homosexual and Albert is a dirty old man forcing himself on you.

Same old, same old.

29 June 2012 at 19:01  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Oh, and not forgetting Marie. Not what is it you accuse her of? Care to remind us?

29 June 2012 at 19:03  
Blogger David B said...

@ Albert

Not to my mind.

I see what it means is that the swings and roundabouts of various moral rules of thumb, and the relative value to be placed on such rules of thumb when they conflict, are matters for thought, for debate, for discussion.

And for such debate to allow morals to descend with modification, in a manner of speaking.

I do think morals in the west have moved on since the days of slavery, treating women and children as chattels, and burning animals in the hope of propitiating angry gods who like the smell of burning flesh.

David B

29 June 2012 at 19:18  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Phil R said ...

"In many years no-one has found anything suppporting the doctrine of "God loves the sinner but hates the sin", but please show me where I am wrong and Jesus did say that or point to it."

Are you serious?

Are you a Christian?

Christ died on the Cross for the sin of men! The whole New Testament is a demonstration of God's love for mankind! Have you tried reading the parables of Jesus?

29 June 2012 at 19:32  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

@Phil - "Christ died for sins once for all" ring a bell? Don't think Christ would die for all, sinners included, if He didn't love all. And don't forget that if God doesn't love sinners then He can't love you.

@Marie - And what if the religion of this country changes to Islam? And they decide that baptisms are illegal unless a charge is incurred to pay for a lifeguard in case of drowning?

29 June 2012 at 19:50  
Blogger len said...

Dodo
'You can't believe its a question of waiting for a new nature to be given to us. Can you?'.

Yes.

The driving force behind a man is the Spirit.The Spirit defines what the man will be and how the man thinks and shapes his destiny.The Spirit which God intended to reside in man was God`s spirit(made in His Image, to reflect God`s qualities)

Now obviously something went disastrously wrong and the image fallen man reflects is anything but Godly.Man when he rejected God`s Spirit fell back onto his own resources and derived his spiritual motivation from ungodly sources.

Jesus came to restore God`s original intention to mankind and to restore the broken relationship between man and God through the Holy Spirit.
God`s Spirit was to indwell man and enable man to reflect the image of God and God`s attributes.Man does not become God but partakes of the attributes of God(fruit of the Spirit)

So God created a new man through the re birth and condemned the old 'Adamic' creation at the Cross of Calvary.

Of course I do not condone sin but just to condemn sin is only half of the equation the whole story must be told.The sinner and the sin nature is the negative, the positive is the new birth the new creation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In fact Christ`s death is OUR death and His Resurrection is OUR resurrection if we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

29 June 2012 at 19:53  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Len:

Where does free will exist in this set up? And more importantly, how does it impact on the right (or no right) of Jews to practice infant circumcision?

29 June 2012 at 20:04  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

len said..

Superbly stated, lad.

Ernst

29 June 2012 at 20:06  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

AIB stated

"Where does free will exist in this set up?" We all have god given responsibility for our children as parents, to see they grow up properly and for their FUTURE well being. Is not their eternal state our concern also?

and

"And more importantly, how does it impact on the right (or no right) of Jews to practice infant circumcision?"

Err God himself commanded it!
Genesis 17:9-14..or should we just ignore His decrees?

E S Blofeld

29 June 2012 at 20:14  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Blofeld:

I didn't mean to imply opposition to male circumcision; I can quite forgive not reading through my tiresomely long posts, but I have already indicated that I am not opposed to male circumcision in principle. I'd add that whilst I no longer view it as necessary under the new covenant, I do not consider the original covenant, including circumcision, to be anything other than fundamentally good.

However, as you've weighed in, do you believe (I'm assuming you also accept the new covenant) that as Christians we should be obliged to support the right to circumcise males? If so, as Phil earlier alluded, do you hold this position because you regard Judaism in a special degree (i.e. because it is the forebear of Christianity), or as a matter of the principle of religious freedom, or for some other reason?

By free will, I was referring to the fact that Len's alternative nature explanation seems to imply the doctrine of irresistable Grace. Presumably you accord with the basic idea that conviction of the need to seek repentance comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). This being the case, it is possible to both persist in repentence, but also to resist it (1 John 1:8-10). Hence one has free will to choose for or against God. That being the case, Len's way of explaining it suggests that the indwelling of the Spirit is all there is to it - hence he seems (and I may have got this wrong) to imply that the initial turn to God, by responding to the Holy Spirit's conviction, creates a divide between sinners and the saved in terms of their capacity to sin ("what the man will be and how the man thinks and shapes his destiny"). I just wonder where free will is, or even what free will might constitute in this system.

For the benefit of doubt, I'm not slinging mud here, just seeking clarity (hence the two genuine questions).

His last line, though, I agree is absolutely spot on.

29 June 2012 at 20:47  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len and Ernsty

Len you never actually answer the question of the part played by free will in the process of justification and sanctification.

Not the thread for this discussion but I'm sure our host will forgive us (again!).

There is something of a paradox in Scripture about God's omniscience and man's free will. It divides protestant Christians and was part of the driving force behind the Reformation.

Calvinism stands at one extreme; Lutheranism somewhere in the middle and Catholics towards the other end.

Some understand the Bible's references to humanity's condition as being that of 'total depravity', a spiritual death, with free will permanently removed. According to this, some are predestined by God to be saved; the rest for damnation. Justification is limited to those predestined for an irresistable conversion of the eternally elect.

Other Christians see this bleak position as making God a tyrant and an executioner. They see 'spiritual death' as a condition that prevenient (preceeding) grace can potentilly resolve for everyone.

Some see all people as either dead in their sins or alive in Christ, and the doctrine of prevenient grace as creating a third state, neither dead nor alive. Some understand "dead in sin" to mean absolutely incapable of good, whereas other Christians understand it to mean the state of being separated from God by sin, but the person remaining capable of choosing God when enabled to by grace.

And then there are disagreements about whether grace is irresistable or not - what part freewill plays?

Here's what Arminius stated:

"Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace.... This grace [prœvenit] goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co operates lest we will in vain."

A Methodist account:

"...the divine love that surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses. This grace prompts our first wish to please God, our first glimmer of understanding concerning God's will, and our 'first slight transient conviction' of having sinned against God. God's grace also awakens in us an earnest longing for deliverance from sin and death and moves us toward repentance and faith."

And there's plenty of Biblical support too, depending on one's understanding of Scripture:

Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

John 6:44: "No man can come unto me, unless the Father who hath sent me, draw him..."

John 12:32: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Romans 2:4: "...the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance..."

Philippians 2:12-13: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you according to his good pleasure, both to will and to do."

And no, I'm neither Armenian nor Methodist. The Council of Trent stated Catholic doctrine as:

"The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace."

29 June 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger David B said...

OSB&T

You might look at some of the other things the putative God is supposed to have commanded in the OT, and consider whether they are:-

Ethical

Sane.

David B

29 June 2012 at 20:59  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I agree with Dieter Graumann. It is outrageous and anti semitic to attempt to ban male circumcision of Jewish babies.It is well know that male circumcision is an essential part of being Jewish. There are many positives to a male being circumcised as already mentioned in HG's post.Women find a circumcised penis more attractive and circumsised men make better lovers because they can prolong the sexual act. Not that this would be even worthy of
consideration on this site..a male bastion of misogynists,latent and practising homosexuals.

29 June 2012 at 21:16  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

agree FGM is wrong. If we want to argue that male circumcision should be permissible and FGM not that is the comparison upon which we need to focus, I think. No?

28 June 2012 14:55

Sorry I know many of you people are obsessed with your ever smaller and inoperative Phallus, but can more of you please concentrate the finger attached to your ever more hairy palms with the real issues at hand, so to speak.

There is little or not comparison to the removal of a girls clitoris, and that of a small all but perfectly superfluous piece of skin on the end of a boys penis.

However the REAL POINT is that made by His Grace, which seems to have been all but completely ignored.

"As JS Mill might put it, we once again observe the tyranny of the majority."

Democracy is the problem.

29 June 2012 at 21:23  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

To compare male to female circumcision on anything like equal terms, is almost like comparing cutting a child's toe nails with cutting their throat.

People like Roman Catholics and Islamists may have a particularly unhealthy obsession with barbaric pagan based traditions, but FC in common with these other obsessions has nothing to do with the Testament or Testaments of God.

MC on the other hand most certainly founded upon the direct instruction of God. Also the choice is fairly placed with the parents, as is the care, guidance and instruction of children, for better or for worse.

Democracy is the problem.

Democracy is all but oligarchical dictatorship. So close to same that indeed the two forms of tyranny are virtually indistinguishable from each other. As are of course Marxism, and Fascism.

We now have a majority government possibly for the first time ever. Our two combined governing parties are seen to have possessed more then 50% of the vote, and still do.

Yet not only do the majority of public not get what they want, neither do the minority.

What they actually get is what our hierarchy or oligarchy wants them to have. Which may sometimes suit a minority, or even the majority, but if it does the connection is purely accidental, as well as disingenuous in nature.

Constitutional government is the only form worth having. Where the properly rights of the common man are protected under the rule of COMMON LAW, not the ever more manipulated opinions on the majority or minority or the public.

29 June 2012 at 21:55  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida

Ummm .... what sexist views!

Now why wouldn't practising homosexuals want to prolong the sex act? As for 'latent homosexuals', well I don't think it'd bother them too much. And even
misogynists would accept the delay philosphically provided their women maintained concentration.

29 June 2012 at 21:57  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Youthpasta

The issue I have with the "God loves the sinner but hates the sin" etc is that it seems to suggest that God is able to save us without the need for Christ.

Without Christ we are condemned for our sins. If we fail to accept this gift we are condemned for our sins.

"God loves the sinner but hates the sin" gives the impression that you will be saved without accepting Christ. "Because God loves you really whatever you do" mantra the impression is that we do not need Christ for salvation.

This is a false Gospel. If you do not accept Christ and are born again there is no salvation

A bit off topic perhaps, but this fundamental truth is always worth repeating.

Phil

29 June 2012 at 21:59  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@youthpasta”And what if the religion of this country changes to Islam? And they decide that baptisms are illegal unless a charge is incurred to pay for a lifeguard in case of drowning?”

Well it's up to us to ensure our future remains Christian and that we don't allow the domination of Islam then isn't it?

29 June 2012 at 22:00  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Atlas

Now your confusing me!

"MC on the other hand most certainly founded upon the direct instruction of God."

Is this the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or is it Satan or is it alien visitors? Previous posts indicate you do not know who inspired or wrote the Bible.

29 June 2012 at 22:02  
Blogger David B said...

@Belfast 15.39

An interesting and thought provoking question, which I missed earlier, this thread moving so fast.

I think I might have overstated my case a bit there, in retrospect.

Any sort of absolute withdrawal from cultural influence I think impossible, though to not be bound by one's own culture I see as a virtue.

I do think culture and ethics as to some degree necessarily intertwined, with some sort of feedback involved.

A change in culture will bring different ethical choices into play, a change in ethics will change the culture.

So, no, I don't envisage the sort of Faraday box you mention.

"If so, it rather suggests to me that there would have to be an underlying basic system of ethics, pre-existing, or at least capable of existing in perfect separation from culture"

The analogy I'd like to draw is science.

Science can and does increasingly describe the world better, but I don't think that there is a pre-existing system of science, in perfect separation from culture.

Neither science nor ethics, I think, are entirely separated from culture, neither are somehow pre-existingly out there, so to speak, and both require, sometimes, being able to step outside the cultural box.

A case in point being the ability of science to step outside the cultural box that placed earth at the centre of the universe.

I hope that clarifies my position to some degree, even if not making it absolutely clear:)

David B

29 June 2012 at 22:14  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

I see what it means is that the swings and roundabouts of various moral rules of thumb, and the relative value to be placed on such rules of thumb when they conflict, are matters for thought, for debate, for discussion.

I can't really see how that explains how you avoid the problem I posed. But perhaps the following sheds some light:

I do think morals in the west have moved on since the days of slavery, treating women and children as chattels, and burning animals in the hope of propitiating angry gods who like the smell of burning flesh.

I'm just wondering if you are confusing the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of morality in there. In any case, we've certainly moved on. But is it an improvement? If so, by what standard?

29 June 2012 at 22:14  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo I know you are not completely stupid and I also know that you have deliberately misinterpreted my post with a false accusation to provoke a response.
Adherents on this site are not interested in heterosexual women's needs. They are overly preoccupied with male homosexual activity.
For most a sack of potatoes and a woman are interchangeable,except for the sheep fanciers who occupy a different category.

29 June 2012 at 22:52  
Blogger David B said...

I think it is an improvement, Albert.

But my response was to Belfast.

What was the problem you posed again?

Once again, though, I think devoting a lot of time to questions such as this are better and more easily addressed in discussion board format than in comments on blog posts of short life.

You are welcome to mine, or to suggest an alternative venue.

David

29 June 2012 at 23:22  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@David B:

Thanks for taking the time to reply - this isn't the most ideal format I agree. If His Grace will permit me to ask what the address of your forum is, I'll stick my head round and see what's going on.

Science, I agree, should provide a pretty good basis for a number of issues. But only, and this will seem patently obvious, for those things that are a) empirically knowable, and b) empirically measurable. I gave an example in the FGM issue - that of unsanitary instruments - which I think provides just the kind of basic and objective basis for criticism. However, as I said, there yet remain, intertwined, as you say, a great many other issues that I find it difficult to imagine are within the capacity of the scientific method to either grasp or deliberate on.

29 June 2012 at 23:46  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida

Why thank you for acknowledging I am not completely stupid. I simply thought you were looking for an opportunity to test out those claws of yours and thought I was being helpful.

And this is an outrageous statement:

"Adherents on this site are not interested in heterosexual women's needs ... For most a sack of potatoes and a woman are interchangeable.

No man on this blog would ever peel the skin off a woman, make her into chips (or is it French Fries?) and fry her or boil and mash her! (Well, one or two might). And most would agree it is better sleeping next to a warm and tender woman than a sack of potatoes - and some, I am sure, will have had experience of both!

I cannot comment on sheep fanciers.

30 June 2012 at 00:24  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

@Phil - You seem to have a very poor understanding of love. Love is not a carte blanche to those who are loved, as you seem to believe. When a child does something wrong they are disciplined. In the same way we are disciplined by our Heavenly Father, not because He hates us but because He loves us. In fact, God loves us SO much that He will let us choose not to remain with Him eternally, if that is our choice. It is ALL about love, because God loves everyone. If God only loved the righteous then we'd all be sailing up a rather brown river with nothing to use for propulsion.

@Marie - By your logic you have just agreed with the torture and killing of people of all faiths, including Christians, across the world who suffer purely because the country they live in holds their views to be incompatible with those supported by the law.

30 June 2012 at 00:33  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 June 2012 at 01:00  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Dodo


"Christ died on the Cross for the sin of men! The whole New Testament is a demonstration of God's love for mankind! Have you tried reading the parables of Jesus?"

Christ died as payment for our sins. He opened a route for us to be connected with God. Without acceptance of what Jesus did for us there is no forgiveness. Jesus is the route by which everyone must be saved.

I say again God does not love the sinner. We are saved because Jesus paid the price for our sins. God could not save us without Jesus. That is why I say God hates sin and condemns the sinner. Our only route is by being born again, accepting Jesus as our saviour, our sins are forgiven and our true relationship with God is restored.

Of course I am a sinner. Without Jesus I have no hope. So back to the topic, the issue about circumcision is a non issue as the Jews and Moslems can only find salvation though Jesus. Getting your bit chopped off may make you think that you are saved (Your Religion will save you) when you are not. God still condemns you for your sin as you have not put your trust in Jesus.

Phil

30 June 2012 at 01:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

David B said ...

"Neither science nor ethics, I think, are entirely separated from culture, neither are somehow pre-existingly out there, so to speak, and both require, sometimes, being able to step outside the cultural box."

Yes, but presumably you'd agree that science advances and develops the tools and techniques for arriving at more accurate understandings of the material world?

"A case in point being the ability of science to step outside the cultural box that placed earth at the centre of the universe."

A case in point being the development of Christianity promoting the ability to step outside the cultural box that places man at the centre of the universe. The application and the better appreciation and application of the radical Christian message:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
(Matthew 7:12)

A theme of all major religions but stated in positive terms by Christ and given expression in His life and in His death.

Surely the scientific method, whilst not separated from culture, searches for 'truths' that are pre-existing? A Christian would say the same applies to moral truths and the tools have been given to us.

30 June 2012 at 01:13  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@ Youthpasta
Well I do wonder why other religions wish to live in an Islamic country attempting to convert and bring a better way when they are never going to change enough to make a significant difference. All they do is endanger the lives of any new converts. But we can help if someone wants to renounce Islam and escape.

I don't condone torture and killing but why put your life at risk trying to covert the unconvertible?

30 June 2012 at 01:22  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

Dear Dodo you are supposed to be confused, the book is often confusing.

To answer your question I DON'T KNOW.

Although neither does anyone else.

The point is that it says it in the book quite clearly, and of course it was referring to the god of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, this again is stated quite clearly.

These chaps also clearly thought it to be their creator God, as do all Jews to my knowledge, therefore it is hardly surprising that they feel compelled to do as they are told.

Although even if it were not, I should imagine that they still would, for the God or god of the Jews does not look kindly on those of his people who ignore his commands, as you know.

My proposition is that our oligarchical slave owners are seeking to replace our God with their god, which most surely is Satan, under the clock of Marxism.

30 June 2012 at 01:28  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Phil R

If I might say so, you have a bleak and somewhat morbid understanding of the love of God. You also follow a neat formula that I addressed at 20:51 above.

I follow a teaching that offers more hope:

"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation"
(Lumen Gentium, 16)

30 June 2012 at 01:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Atlas

I mean this kindly, you really do need to decide whether the Bible is the inspired word of an omniscient God who loves us all or the writings of Satan, who hates us, or an alien race, experimenting with us.

I believe the former and base my world view on this. It gives me faith and hope and a trust in the Divine Providence of God. It makes me optimistic.

I see no organised conspiracy at play in the affairs of man. I see do see the influences of Satan and Fallen man being played out offset by the Mercy and Love of our Creator.

30 June 2012 at 02:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Youthpasta: "As a Christian I believe that animals are not of the same level as humans due to humans being made in the image of God. Thus killing of animals for food, something declared by God to be perfectly acceptable after the flood, is completely different to the killing of babies in the womb."

Oh I understand the Christian point of view, based on the idea of souls and a human-centric god, but of course that has no pull on me at all.

You made an earlier statement about life being sacred in all forms, and about welfare, but you implicitly excluded non-human animals. You do that on religious grounds.

"Going on the assumption that atheists would tend to go with Darwin and the view that humans are animals like any other, maiming should still be in the same order as killing unborn children. After all, it is about harming the defenceless. Just because an child has yet to be born does not make it any less alive."

There's a lot of assumption in all that. For an atheist like me, we're a species in a whole set of species. At a universal level, we're essentially just like any other animals. However, that doesn't mean that I think we're all the same in terms of moral issues at all.

You're equivocating between a foetus and a child, and between life and a subject of a life. Again, you do it on religious grounds, and again, it has no pull on me as a result. I don't accept your premises so I'm not bound by your conclusions.

"And additionally, the logic of this position SHOULD lead to veganism."

No. There's unstated assumptions in there too. While humans are just animals in some universal sense, we're have self-awareness and sympathy/empathy as human attributes. We're also naturally gregarious, living interconnectedly in socities. This is the human condition.

Whilst the non-human condition ought to have a pull on us based on some core shared attributes and on our awareness of their condition, they're not included in our moral world as equals. Human society builds an awful lot on top of all that in terms of obligations and the like.

Here's a bit of a thought experiment. If a handful of humans were isolated as young children and left to fend for themselves then they might naturally cooperate and form a proto-society. Or they might live as individuals, competing for resources. It's unlikely they'd have language and so self-awareness would probably be quite limited. If one killed another over a scarce resource, such as food in winter, then would that actually be morally wrong?

30 June 2012 at 06:56  
Blogger David B said...

@Dodo 1.13

There is much I would dispute about your post, but I will focus on the part I have found most difficult and most interesting, both, long before you raised it here.

"Surely the scientific method, whilst not separated from culture, searches for 'truths' that are pre-existing? A Christian would say the same applies to moral truths and the tools have been given to us."

In the years when I was seeking a justification for an absolute basis for morality this was pretty much the line I was working on.

We do know now that earth moved around the sun billions of years before there were people to see it, and we know now that Pythagoras's theorum works for Euclidean space.

So I did work along the lines that if I could justify scientific truths and - particularly - mathematical truths being somehow out there, independent of scientists and mathematicians, then there was scope for working on morality in the same way.

It is something I have considered, read about and discussed online for many years, and now tend strongly to the view that truth itself is mind dependent.

I don't subscribe to the Berkelyesque POV that events happening with no-one to see them implies God.

Events happened before there was life on earth, but there was no truth value to them. That is my current view, and has been for some years now.

If I am wrong about this, then perhaps it would justify some sort of pantheism, and it might also justify some sort of moral optimum being somehow out there in the same way that there would be some sort of optimally elegant proof of Fermat out there somehow, but since, in neither case, would these optima be accessible to us, then I don't see such a POV as being particularly helpful in the human condition we find ourselves in.

I don't see Christians as being particularly successful at reaching much of a consensus on ethics, any more than the adherents of other religions or none, despite the intellectual tools you term 'given to us' but which I would term 'evolved'.

You might consider Christian scriptures such a tool, I suppose, but I don't.

Still, we all here seem to be opposed to slavery, FGM, and human sacrifice to propitiate angry Gods.

Excepting what it seems most Christians see as one human sacrifice in particular.

David B

30 June 2012 at 08:30  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Marie, SHAME ON YOU!!!
Read Matthew 28 and you will see why people go into ALL THE WORLD to bring the Good News.
And, just to educate your clear lack of understanding of global religions, it is not just Islamic countries that people of other faiths suffer. Hindu India, as just 1 example, has been arresting people who might seek to convert Hindus to another faith. Indeed, Hindus have gathered into a mob and beaten Christians in order to try and stop them from sharing the Gospel.
Now, for pity's sake woman, try to start speaking as one who has Christ in their heart, rather than spitting bile on all who you believe to be in the wrong!

30 June 2012 at 08:54  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Dan, you are arguing against yourself now.

30 June 2012 at 08:55  
Blogger DeeDee99 said...

I side with the Cologne Court. I don't believe parents have the right to decide on their child's religious affiliation and demonstrate this by surgery.

If the religion required every male child to have his nose cut off 9 days after birth, we wouldn't allow it. So why do we allow his foreskin to be cut off?

30 June 2012 at 09:15  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

What was the problem you posed again?

I said,

If there are no moral absolutes, doesn't that mean that every moral claim can be trumped by another moral claim? In fact, if there are no moral absolutes, doesn't that mean that every moral claim can be trumped by a non-moral claim. And isn't that ultimately the same as having no morality, just a series of expedient power-bids?

But you've raised some interesting comparisons with science.

truth itself is mind dependent.

So a true statement does not correspond with what goes on in reality? Or does it?

Events happened before there was life on earth, but there was no truth value to them.

That's very difficult isn't it. It seems to imply that it wasn't true that events were happening, when they were happening before life, but it is true now that that they were happening when they were happening. Is that what you mean?

I'm wondering if the problem here is to do with limiting possibilities. Okay, so you want to reject a Platonic doctrine of forms, but that does not do away with the possibility of correspondence theory of truth. That light travels at about 186 000 mps is not true because there is a Platonic form of lightspeed, it is true because the statement corresponds to actual reality of the speed that light travels.

In the same way it is possible for there to be moral absolutes to be discovered, without committing ourselves to Platonic forms.

I don't see Christians as being particularly successful at reaching much of a consensus on ethics, any more than the adherents of other religions or none, despite the intellectual tools you term 'given to us' but which I would term 'evolved'.

Again, I just worry that there may be a confusion between metaphysics and epistemology in there.

30 June 2012 at 09:51  
Blogger Preacher said...

Youthpasta.
We cannot separate the sinner from the act of sinning. Sin is an act of choice. "The light came into the world, but men chose the dark because their deeds were evil". "The soul that sins shall die".
Ever since the fall, man's soul has been corrupt & we choose our own way rather than Gods.
Self Interested Nature = S-I-N.

Jesus' death was God's solution to the problem of His Love for Mankind v His Justice against man's wilful choice of sin.
He stepped into human history & provided a sinless sacrifice so that He could show Mercy to those that accepted His redemptive death.

If we attempt to separate the sin from the sinner we give the opportunity for the error that many have fallen into, to quote Adam "It wasn't me, It was the Woman you gave me." & Eve's response "The Serpent made me do it". They both Chose rebellion.
The result of this error is Cheap grace. We never enter into the fullness of discipleship & receive the promised power of the Holy Spirit.

Sin appears in all Men's lives, like weeds in a garden, the answer is to recognise it, repent, confess it to God & consign it to the fire.


Blessings. Preacher

30 June 2012 at 10:23  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

AIB, David B and Dodo

Will answer your points later as must go out to buy some diy materials.

Ernst is neither Arminian or Calvinist as I believe a tautology exits within the role of salvation we cannot comprehend so both are correct!

David B..which are the points you accuse the God of the OT with. Are you aware that He is Christ Himself and NOT the Father that speaks to man and was YHWH.

Ernst

30 June 2012 at 10:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Whatcha building Ernst?

Should we be concerned?

30 June 2012 at 11:48  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

AIB, an extension for his commode?

Do keep away from solvents Ernsty! Some of us will recall the effect on you that time you were laying floor tiles.

(*loud chuckle*)

30 June 2012 at 12:54  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Somewhere, a panicked nurse is looking for her charge, having been told he was last seen wandering off in the direction of the town in search of a hammer.

30 June 2012 at 13:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Elderly Confused man found sleeping in B&Q

Police have returned the poor unfortunate back to the custody of matron. Also found there was an equally elderly and confused cat that had unfortunately fouled the floor...

heh heh

30 June 2012 at 13:22  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

You sure that wasn't a weasel Inspector?

*I'm bad*

30 June 2012 at 13:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David B: "So I did work along the lines that if I could justify scientific truths and - particularly - mathematical truths being somehow out there, independent of scientists and mathematicians, then there was scope for working on morality in the same way."

Doesn't morality require some notion of choice or free will, and therefore consciousness? If those things didn't exist in our universe then it seems to me that morality wouldn't exist.

30 June 2012 at 14:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Staff weep as unpopular grandfather brought back to home

Furious nurses jeered angrily as police returned their least popular resident this afternoon, before driving off pretty damn quick. One interfering old busybody who lives opposite the home said “You could see the despair in their eyes as they glared at him. Another black day for ‘Numbered Days Rest Home for the Religiously Malicious’.

We rang the home several hours later. “He’s well. And tethered to a fence post” said an exasperated matron who did not wish to give her name.

30 June 2012 at 14:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Also, a point that I make to Mr Jacobs all the time: just because an absolute morality would make things simpler or more convenient, it doesn't necessarily make it true by any stretch.

30 June 2012 at 14:07  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

"Doesn't morality require some notion of choice or free will, and therefore consciousness? If those things didn't exist in our universe then it seems to me that morality wouldn't exist."

Indeed. In a strictly deterministic universe, there would be no possibility for free will, only the appearance of free will, which would ultimately be an illusion.

Except, of course, if it were possible for an entity entirely outside that universe to intervene in it. Then the possibility for free will would exist in the divergence between the deterministic and the Intervenor.

30 June 2012 at 15:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Indeed. In a strictly deterministic universe, there would be no possibility for free will, only the appearance of free will, which would ultimately be an illusion."

The question is, do we actually live in a strictly deterministic universe even if your god hypothesis doesn't actually exist? For myself, I'm inclined to think free will is an illusion.

"Then the possibility for free will would exist in the divergence between the deterministic and the Intervenor."

How does that actually help the issue of free will for human beings? Isn't it just shifting the problem on a bit? I've often wondered how the religious handle that ... do you just assert that free will is somehow in the nature of this spirit thing you assert we have?

30 June 2012 at 15:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0:

In the case of the latter, it could not be an intervention that simply altered a single quality of the universe - this would alter the "trajectory" of the determinism, but would not itself provide an actual choice.

It would essentially have, if it were to constitute free will as it is traditionally understood, to be a choice between continuing on the deterministic path, or taking another path provided by the Intervenor. In effect, assuming a deterministic universe, free will could only exist in terms of aligning oneself with the universe as-is, or aligning oneself with the Intervenor.

30 June 2012 at 15:28  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Oop, clicked too quickly.

In effect, given that determinism is fundamentally material - and a simple alteration of the material would only result in a changed trajectory, free will in the situation I outline would have to be exercised in a non-material realm. Thus, the "alignment" would be more than a simple choice between material ends, but rather a choice between being aligned solely with the material earth, or aligned with, and in some sense contiguous with, the "outsideness", the non-materiality of the Intervenor.

30 June 2012 at 15:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "free will in the situation I outline would have to be exercised in a non-material realm"

It's that bit that intrigues me. Not only does the something of us in this non-material realm you assert need to be capable of free will in some way, it presumably needs to influence our brains, including the brain-dependent parts of the mind, in the material world somehow.

30 June 2012 at 15:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0:

Yes, but only if you assume that the brain remains the primary means by which free will is exercised. Remember, in the model there is already a need for something non-material. What if the non-material element possessed the capacity to respond or to refuse the possibility of the Intervenor, as a faculty of its own?

Incidentally, I offer this more as a thought experiment than an explanation of why I am a Christian. For one thing, the model would seem to be quite a different one if the deterministic universe had only come about by the Intervenor's actions.

30 June 2012 at 15:46  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Yes, but only if you assume that the brain remains the primary means by which free will is exercised."

Oh I'm already assuming the spirit bit is the primary piece for free will. I was just leading on to the observable fact that changing the brain, through drugs or physical trauma or disease, seems to significantly change the mind and personality. In fact, formerly good people can become really quite bad as a result.

30 June 2012 at 15:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

That is, the spirit may well add some sort of non-deterministic (as far as this universe is concerned) component to decision-making but the brain seems to have a huge influence on things.

30 June 2012 at 15:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

For this sites amusement and delectation.

The Story: Lechlade man Nicholas Saunders, 46, has been found guilty of having sex with his ex-wife’s bull mastiff dog

The consensus of opinion on that site is that he was well and truly stitched up by the ex wife....
_____________________________________

by Lord_Haw_Haw

Saturday, June 30 2012, 4:52PM

“I say Cheesetasty, brilliant !

The quote from her being "Hubby said he's reluctant to get in my bad books as it would only take a lie from me to get him in deep trouble!"

The very words first uttered by Eve to a certain talking snake, what !”

30 June 2012 at 17:03  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

@Preacher - Not saying you separate the son from the sinner. After all, a repentant sinner is saved and an unrepentant sinner is condemned. But if God did not love the sinner then we would all be in trouble because "God so loved the World..." would not have happened.

30 June 2012 at 17:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ah, Youthpasta, just the fellow. A bit of unfinished business from yesterday...

It has been made perfectly clear to us mortals that to defy God, and that includes in this man’s far from humble opinion FGM, we will NOT enter heaven. Thus, God loves us in as much as He gives a chance to live by Him. There is therefore a limit on how far that love extends, is there not ? Exceed His patience, and you have well and truly had it for eternity, have you not ?

30 June 2012 at 17:37  
Blogger David B said...

@ DanJO

"Doesn't morality require some notion of choice or free will, and therefore consciousness? If those things didn't exist in our universe then it seems to me that morality wouldn't exist."

Whether there is or is not free will is something of a contentious issue, as is what might be meant by free will.

I see indeterminacy as something of a red herring in this debate - it doesn't seem to me that randomness or arbitrariness in decision making is any sort of aid to morality.

My views can be described as compatibilist - that is to say that choice making is an evolved feature of a largely determined universe, and my views have been influenced by Dennett and Hofstadter,

In particular by 'Freedom Evolves' and by 'I am a Strange Loop'

I am persuaded that agents like human beings are impelled to make choices, and that when these choices concern moral decisions, the choices are morally significant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

I quote from wiki

"The Compatibilist might argue that determinism is not just compatible with any good definition of free will, but actually necessary. If one's actions are not determined by one's beliefs, desires, and character, then how could one possibly be held morally responsible for those actions?"

David B

30 June 2012 at 17:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

David B said ...

"If one's actions are not determined by one's beliefs, desires, and character, then how could one possibly be held morally responsible for those actions?"

It'sall getting a bit confusing for this poor old bird's brain!

"Determined" is too strong a word, surely? Doesn't one freely choose internally to consent or reject certain beliefs and to succumb or resist certain desires? And as for 'character', well we construct and reconstruct our character on a daily basis by deciding, freely, whether or not to do what we hold to moral or immoral.

I can't see much determinism in this - merely a background constraint from socialisation that as adults with independent minds and reason we accept, reject or modify.

It's when we go against what we know to be right that we are morally culpable. Or when we refuse to think about what we do and base our behaviour on a moral code. Legal culpability is something different.

30 June 2012 at 18:52  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

I see indeterminacy as something of a red herring in this debate - it doesn't seem to me that randomness or arbitrariness in decision making is any sort of aid to morality.

There's some sense in this. On the one hand, there's clearly a problem if my actions are determined by the deterministic behaviour of the particles etc. that make up my body. But it is, if anything, even more disastrous if my actions are determined by a random firing of some kind of quantum event in my brain.

It seems to me therefore that morality and freedom are impossible if we are made of nothing more than physical bits, such that our actions are determined by the deterministic or random action of the particles that make us up.

This is the irony: historically people got rid of God to preserve freedom. But in so doing they seem to have lost freedom, morality and the person himself.

30 June 2012 at 20:13  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

No, Inspector, there is not. Ever read Psalm 103?

30 June 2012 at 22:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta.Christ's message was simple. You don’t need a university education to understand it.

Now, either you or Christ is wrong. Think about it and let the Inspector know of your considered opinion tomorrow...

30 June 2012 at 23:39  
Blogger David B said...

@ Albert 20 13

I once had a very long discussion at the old Internet Infidels discussion board with a very clever lady, PhD in neuroscience, about this very point.

Your point was pretty much her sticking point on theism.

Determinism implies no meaningful morality, there is a meaningful morality, therefore God.

I was, in a long and convoluted discussion, able to persuade her that determinism did not imply that morality was meaningless.

The arguments are beyond the scope of a necessarily brief posts in a comment thread.

In brief, though, persuading her to read 'Freedom Evolves' was a big part of it, coupled with persuading her that from an ultra reductionist POV the brain state at a particular time is what leads to a decision being taken by a brain, but from a less reductionist POV the brain state at the time the decision was made is itself determined by thoughts, by ideas, by contemplation, by reading, by consideration.

It is not indeterminacy, IMV, that allows for morally significant decisons to emerge, but, in short, to feedback, and feedback across levels of reduction.

Neurons shove the brain states around, but ideas shove the neurons around.

David

1 July 2012 at 00:14  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

My considered opinion is that you don't like Psalm 103. Such a shame, given both it's beauty and the fact that it tells us how far God's love extends.

1 July 2012 at 00:44  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta

Either Christ came to earth to save souls or he was just a glorified social worker, working 9-5 Mon-Fri and on the on call rota at the weekend. To be called out was at triple time or double time plus time in lieu. Sounds familiar ? It’s Anglicanism today...

The Inspector happens to believe Christ’s message. Be good or you are finished. But of course, we can’t upset the sinners with that truth, can we ?

1 July 2012 at 01:04  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

And what has telling the truth to sinners have to do with his much God loves everyone? We should be telling them BECAUSE God loves them AND tells us to love them!
Matthew 5:44 is clearly pointing at that!

1 July 2012 at 01:09  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta. Christ has offered us SALVATION. Otherwise we rot. Not everyone is saved. That is how we are told it must be. Why send the son of God to earth when all along, come what may, we all end up in same place ?

1 July 2012 at 01:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Youthpastry

Do you believe Hell exists - a place of everlasting seperation from God; a place of eternal torment?

1 July 2012 at 01:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna ..."


"Just as weeds are collected and burned (up) with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."


"Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh, wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God.

And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment."

1 July 2012 at 01:44  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

And if you have no teeth to grind, teeth will be supplied....

1 July 2012 at 02:27  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

You 2 really are a dozy pair! Nowhere have I suggested that I don't believe that we all need salvation or that I do not believe in Hell (yes, Dodo, I believe that it is a place of everlasting separation from God) and yet you raise these questions because either your memory clearly rivals that of a goldfish, or you've never really read what I have posted here in the past, or you could not be bothered to check to see I your assumptions were accurate before posting such tripe.

Matthew 5 and Psalm 103, Inspector, both exist in widely accepted orthodox translations of the Bible. They are not heresy. They are Biblical fact. Both speak of God's love for humanity.
And let us add in the lost sheep parable here for good measure, with some explanation of it's meaning. The shepherd is God. The 99 sheep are the righteous/saved, whereas the lost 1 is a sinner. The shepherd goes out and finds the sheep to return it to the herd. Now, I am sure that you are thinking (based on your recent comments) that this proves your point as the sheep must return to be saved. However, you will have missed the point of the story, which comes In the second sentence of verse 4 in Luke 15, where the shepherd goes out to find the sheep!
See, the point is not that we need to be saved, of course we do! The point is that God loved us so much that He made our salvation possible by the Father sending the Son to die for us! This still leaves us to accept this gift of salvation, and not all will do so, but it is a gift that is open to absolutely EVERYONE because God loves EVERYONE like a father loves his child.

1 July 2012 at 08:10  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Try 1 John chapter 4 as well. Verse 10 in particular "This is love: not that we loved God, but that HE LOVED us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." with v.19 being even clearer "We love because he FIRST loved us"

1 July 2012 at 09:37  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

a very clever lady, PhD in neuroscience

I'm not impressed by that sort of thing. This is a philosophical point, not a science point. As Einstein said scientists make very bad philosophers.

Neurons shove the brain states around, but ideas shove the neurons around.

And what determines the ideas? Actually, I am not opposing compatiblism, but I do think that freedom and morality are incompatible if we determined by the mindless particles which make up our bodies interacting with more mindless particles which don't. It's just a very complex physical system, with no more room for freedom, personality and morality than a machine (which is at heart).

As for Dennett, I haven't read that book, but I do recall one of my philosophy teachers demonstrating that (a) his position on consciousness is over-simplistic, insofar as he fails to understand Aristotle and therefore shuts out a mainstream way of handling the problem of freedom, consciousness & physicality (b) his position simply doesn't work.

1 July 2012 at 10:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Youthpasta. This still leaves us to accept this gift of salvation, and not all will do so, but it is a gift that is open to absolutely EVERYONE because God loves EVERYONE like a father loves his child.

But eventually even a father will disown a son when all hope is lost. It helps us to understand that in as much as we assign the masculine person to God.

You seem to take the attitude of the mother, who will never completely let go, no matter what evil her child is responsible for.

You do the worst of us sinners no service at all. You hang up the bunting of God’s unquestioning love when all along, something very nasty is going to happen to their soul. Perhaps you have no stomach to dwell upon this truth. Of course, it’s not your fault entirely. Anglicanism put the fire out decades ago. They just do church socials now...

1 July 2012 at 14:47  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Youthpasta

The parable of the lost sheep is a wonderful message of the lengths God will go to recover those who have wandered from His path. It implies a need for His assistance in becoming restored to a right relationship with Christ as the sheep was once in the fold. Being "lost" suggests a degree of suffering and desire to be "found".

There is a danger on focusing too much on one of Jesus' parables. Other's place a clear rsponsibility on the person to build or restore a right relationship with God. The parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, suggests God waits for us to return to Him. The initiative for the return to his Father's House comes from the son who wilfully chose to go his own way and with a broken and contrite spirit freely returned.

Other parables give insight into this too and suggest we must use our capabilities to prepare and stay ready for the final summons when we shall stand before Christ.

No one would disagree God loves us all. He has also given us free will and a mind and the ability to reason.

1 July 2012 at 17:32  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Think I'll just make a comment as I do so hate it when one has to post past the 200th one.

1 July 2012 at 17:47  

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