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Hvad er der galt med ateisme?

 

Filosofi, Etik & Religion

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Jeff
Forum-indlæg: 1943
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Dato: 5/1 2013 10:07

Earthling,

Why are you starting completely irrelevant discussion about Sam Harris mentioning stem cell research in a talk about misunderstandings of atheism? It is a completely obvious straw man and it is not even going to get a single word out of me, since it will only encourage you.
Earthling
Forum-indlæg: 1079
Område: KBH
Dato: 5/1 2013 15:09 | Indlæg redigeret den: 5/1 2013 20:01

Jeff
I know a lot of John´s comment was directed at me, or rather about me.

I was being sarcastic given that he speaks about me twice in the third person, and twists my words and takes them out of context... I have no time for it.

He can read my comment to you if he so wishes.

When he does address me directly, he takes up a comment I made about athiests which was neither addressed to him nor about him. The comment was about Professor Peter Higgs (CERN) and others like him, and was within the framwork of the link I posted about him and Dawkins, and a comment you made.

The factor of MOTIVE is relevant. I mentioned it in my last comment to you (Their virulent anti-religious sentiment and the belief that religion was dangerous (the "opium of the people") was the MOTIVE behind their actions). It might also be worth considering the effects of lack of motive...

I agree "on the interest of moral philosophy for the intention-choice-action-consequence complex". I would also "argue that there is a rich corpus of argumentation within philosophical discourse that argues otherwise" - with regard to "obeying rules".

But what´s the point in taking it up with John as long as he´s convinced that I and other believers act out of motives like fear, force, selfishness and hope of reward, and not out of compassion, justice, mercy, love, reason? Nothing I say will persuade him otherwise. I tried hard enough and long enough in the past. I stopped because it only hurt me and brought a heap of unmeritted and aggressive verbal abuse down on my head. I don´t need that...

I was not starting a completely irrelevant discussion about Sam Harris mentioning stem cell research. He made a specific claim in the video with regard to religion and stem cell research (at 5.29.mins) which I am addressing - along with two other comments concerning the same video. You posted the video so stop complaining.


<3


Jeff
Forum-indlæg: 1943
Område: Sjælland
Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 5/1 2013 15:34 | Indlæg redigeret den: 5/1 2013 15:36

Harris' claim about stem cell research is as follows:

"The fact that we're not funding stem cell at the federal level does have something to do with what christians believe about conception and the human soul".

Your points, although interesting to consider for a second or two, (I am actually 99.99% sure that Dr. Harris is aware of the things you mention), have nothing to do with whether religious belief is having a direct impact on the kinds of research we do.

Even if

Top class scientists have abandoned the field of embryonic stem cell research. Last year, Geron, withdrew its significant financial support for ESR because it was not producing results. It is also worth noting that embryonic stem cell has produced little to justify itself despite huge investment.


it still has absolutely nothing to do with the religious reasoning used in opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

I am not complaining. Or rather I am, but not about the points you are making in their own context but rather their lack of relevance for the discussion here (or for Harris' point in the video).

Earthling
Forum-indlæg: 1079
Område: KBH
Dato: 5/1 2013 15:48 | Indlæg redigeret den: 5/1 2013 20:03

As I said earlier,
I have yet to hear someone argue against embryonic research on the basis of a soul. The controversy arises because of the scientific evidence that a new human life comes into being when an egg and a sperm fuse and another completely new human life starts. The matter of a soul does not and need not come into the equation. This is evident in the fact that many non-believers are also concerned about embryonic research...

The big issue is that embryonic reduces the human embryo to “raw material”, “products of conception”, “commodities”, matter to be manipulated and for experimentation. This is seen as fundamentally destructive, as well as a direct attack on human dignity and on human life at its most vulnerable, regardless of the issue concerning the presence or non-presence of a soul.

If you have links or information showing religious people talking about the soul as an argument against ESC research, you might let me have it/them. I have never heard it being used.





John
Forum-indlæg: 1388
Område: KBH
Dato: 5/1 2013 19:53 | Indlæg redigeret den: 5/1 2013 19:58

Obviously, there's a lot of disagreement about what ethics is. But disagreement does not mean that the facts aren't clear. There's disagreement about whether the earth is older than 10.000 years or not.

I don't believe that all definitions of ethics make sense, and I am making a claim about what ethics actually is.

I feel it is very clear when reading philosophical and even religious texts, that ethics is about how one treats others - about how kind and just one is.
This definition makes sense of things. It gives us a red thread - a common denominator - in something like 98% of everything that has been written about ethics (clearly there are some whackjobs out there writing some outlandish shit, and calling it ethics or science or whatever, when it clearly isnt). And this is how definitions (groupings) are made in science - by looking for common denominators. Obviously, I would like it to be 100%, like it is in the harder sciences. But more consensus than this really can't be expected in most fields, given how poorly people use words. Demanding more than this would mean that we couldn't define shoes, tables or rain.

Obviously, one can say that many ethical theories only prescribe kindness and justice to a select group. But such theories are self-contradictory and arbitrary. If someone talks about justice, and only means justice for some, then they clearly don't understand the term. Thinking more deeply about these terms - understanding them more clearly - leads one to not discriminating against anyone and not being unkind against anyone.

I feel that this makes it all simple and intelligible. It gives us a very clear picture of what the subject is all about.

Whereas terms like "moral fitness" or "duty" or "should" just don't. They leave people staring and gaping.
I know that they get used a lot in philosophical circles. So it is with many concepts. But many of them are also completely empty and meaningless. It seems that one can never get an explanation, if one ask what they mean.

I'd love to hear you explain some of those concept, Jeff, and to do so as if speaking to someone who knows (next to) nothing of philosophy.
From past experience, I expect you to say that that would take too long, that it's too complicated or something like that.

Note that my understanding of ethics doesn't have that problem.
Earthling
Forum-indlæg: 1079
Område: KBH
Dato: 5/1 2013 20:09 | Indlæg redigeret den: 6/1 2013 09:22

If someone talks about justice, and only means justice for some, then they clearly don't understand the term. Thinking more deeply about these terms - understanding them more clearly - leads one to not discriminating against anyone and not being unkind against anyone.

Nice words. Would that it were always true in practise... ;)



Jeff
Forum-indlæg: 1943
Område: Sjælland
Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 6/1 2013 00:07 | Indlæg redigeret den: 6/1 2013 00:08

I feel it is very clear when reading philosophical and even religious texts, that ethics is about how one treats others - about how kind and just one is.


John, by this I think you mean that ethical determinations are made as a function of "how one treats others - about how kind and just one is". (I intentionally did not use the word "judgment" since you seem to misunderstand it when I do).

I never disagreed that a great many texts, systems and beliefs play out in this way in what they consider, perhaps ultimately all meaningful texts on morality do this. I see no point in disputing this, since it is not my point. Indeed, I believe very strongly that the origins of our ethics as Homo sapiens derive directly from these kinds of social dynamics: altruism, reciprocity, judgments of fairness and cheating - but I take account of the fact that we as a species also have evolved language, a way of symbolizing and codifying abstract representations, invented the contract, and make considerations about the future such as weighing consequences by mental projections rather than just brute force conditioning.

However, we are discussing very specific points right now (at least I was):

1) Whether there are human ethical systems that consider "how one treats others" on the basis of duty or obligation. There are. This is a fact that can be determined in important texts and, more importantly, that can be observed in belief systems.

and

2) Whether this is the say same as fear of punishment. This can be determined similarly as in (1) above.

To a certain degree you are vacillating between two registers of conversation: what we discuss as a matter of metaethics and how we talk about ethics among ourselves when not all those around the dinner table have the same point of reference for discussing moral philosophy. Although I understand some of your comments above, this conversation with me was not intended to be the one around the dinner table. I am only concerned with the requisite rigor for examining objects of interest, no more, but also no less.

Most of all, even in for some of the statements in your last post now, I am just missing "If we assume...". I assure you that there are a whole family of fundamental premises that I readily entertain, be they utilitarian, contractarian, etc. I actually probably won't spend much time arguing about many them even if they are not completely assumptions I personally make.
Jeff
Forum-indlæg: 1943
Område: Sjælland
Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 6/1 2013 10:52 | Indlæg redigeret den: 6/1 2013 11:19

Earthling,

W.r.t. stem cell research, we need to examine something in two parts:

1)

I have yet to hear someone argue against embryonic research on the basis of a soul. The controversy arises because of the scientific evidence that a new human life comes into being when an egg and a sperm fuse and another completely new human life starts. The matter of a soul does not and need not come into the equation. This is evident in the fact that many non-believers are also concerned about embryonic research...


This is about as slippery as the veiled agenda of Creationism masquerading as Intelligent Design. Fortunately, the U.S. District Court saw through that one as it was systematically dismantled, including by Kenneth Miller, as you know.

First of all, we need to choose which religious doctrine we mean, here I assume by your references and your own profile,t that we mean Roman Catholicism.

Of course, that church is taking a position on the life of embryos as a mortal matter. Technically, its more nuanced position is that the embryo must be treated as if it is ensouled with out a specific claim to if,when and how this could happen. I get all that. And even more specifically, that all human organisms are the unique stuff which can have or receive a soul. This same rhetoric has been round since the '70s when the Vatican started to create its modern doctrine on abortion, it is nothing new to me. So, too, is the argument that it is a "sin" to interfere with "eternal life" of that organism by precluding its ensoulment, regardless of whether that happens at so-called conception of when the umbellical cord is cut and the first independent breaths are taken or any time before or after that.

However, your interpretation of one single sentence by Sam Harris is simply going way to far. Your zeal to try to find something clever people fail to understand, seems to lead you to assume that people don't know something it only takes about 5 minutes to get your head around. Harris used one sentence which I will type out again for you:

"The fact that we're not funding stem cell at the federal level does have something to do with what christians believe about conception and the human soul".

Note that Harris does not say "because christians believe that embryos have souls". He knows the open ambiguity of the matter. In my opinion, he actually shows a kind of regard for the nuances within some christian doctrines on this matter. However, what he is pointing out is that belief about souls (even as a matter of the ensoulment of an organism where it is not yet known whether it has happened or not) should not be part of our interest in the ethics of ESR.

Let me be more clear: Our ethical interests in science should not entertain arguments that derive their ethical importance on anything having to do with the eternal plan for an organism.

Now, I am going to make it a little bit hard for you, since I am not fond of shell games:

Are you saying that the Vatican's position on the moral depravity of abortion and ESR has in no way anything to do with the consequences for the bodies of creatures capable of having a soul?

Additionally, are you saying that no beliefs concerning the life of the unborn held by members of the Roman Catholic church or other churches do not organize around the belief in the soul as defining for human life and therefore causing abortion and ESR to constitute the taking of a human life: murder?

I think that your objection to this single sentence in the talk by Harris is contrived, a red herring, and even accurate w.r.t. Harris very easily could mean here (which is what I also believe he does mean).

The big issue is that embryonic reduces the human embryo to “raw material”, “products of conception”, “commodities”, matter to be manipulated and for experimentation. This is seen as fundamentally destructive, as well as a direct attack on human dignity and on human life at its most vulnerable, regardless of the issue concerning the presence or non-presence of a soul.


This argument is standard bioethics, however, it cannot be separated out at convenience from the motives above. I think that religion may have a legitimate interest in this alone, but no hidden agenda should be tolerated.
Earthling
Forum-indlæg: 1079
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Dato: 6/1 2013 16:18 | Indlæg redigeret den: 7/1 2013 09:01

Jeff
You are reading far too much into what I said. And assuming far too much also, I might add.

I know what Harris said: "The fact that we're not funding stem cell at the federal level does have something to do with what christians believe about conception and the human soul".

I object to his isolating Christians for special mention, given that
(a) there are atheists out there who believe life begins at conception and oppose ESC research
(b) there are people of other faiths out there who believe life begins at conception and in a soul
(c) there are believers out there who agree with abortion, IVF, EST research, even working in these areas
(d) there are many people out there who actually think ESC research is all there is, and know very little about the alternatives or their success rate.

I also fail to see how the issue even needs to arise in a talk called misconceptions about atheism.

I do not object out of zeal to try to find something clever people fail to understand, and neither do I assume that people don't know anything. However, it is safe to say that people may not be informed, simply because of the strong media bias in favour of ESC as opposed to the alternatives. Sam Harris has a following and a lot of power in his hands. I think it only fair that I can address what he says if I so wish, especially if anything he says might feed into the uninformed or half-informed anti-Catholic/Christian prejudice which I frequently meet.

If you want to know what the Catholic Church actually says on the issue of bio-ethics, here is the most recent document
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20081208_dignitas-personae_en.html
http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20090115_1.htm

Regarding "since the '70s when the Vatican started to create its modern doctrine on abortion", if you go into it - or perhaps you already know - the Catholic Church (in fact, the Church in general until the 1930´s) has had a pretty consistant teaching on abortion from the beginning so I don´t know what you mean here.

And of course the human embryo is an organism, a living organism. That is the whole point. It is a living, growing being at the earliest and most vulnerable stage of its development and it is human. All things being equal, it grows into an adult human being. Abortion deliberately stops that process and destroys life. EST research manipulates it, reduces that life to a commodity and ultimately discards it.

Are you saying that the Vatican's position on the moral depravity of abortion and ESR has in no way anything to do with the consequences for the bodies of creatures capable of having a soul?

If you mean the unborn child, no. An unborn child is innocent and wil not, I believe, be deprived of eternal life because of the actions of its parents or some professionals. I do think the consequences for the adults concerned is an issue. This is the case, even if one does not believe adults have souls, by which I mean a psychological and social standpoint.
Additionally, are you saying that no beliefs concerning the life of the unborn held by members of the Roman Catholic church or other churches do not organize around the belief in the soul as defining for human life and therefore causing abortion and ESR to constitute the taking of a human life: murder?

I am saying regardless of whether or not one believes in a soul, there are basic issues of science, philosophy, human rights and justice at work here, and they concern all of us. They are part of Catholic teaching. They do not depend on belief in a soul of any description. They can also be embraced by everyone. It is a question of ethics.

I do not take kindly to your allegations. I have no hidden agenda here, and I´ll thank you to take back those words. It is interesting that you are making such an issue out of my comment. I think SH is being unhelpful and ambigious, and that he drags the issue unnecessarily into his talk. He does no one any favours.



I really didn´t want to waste time writing that last comment, but you gave me no choice, Jeff... I am far more interested in what John says in his last comment about the "common denominator", and in your response. It was my intention to make a positive contribution, but I have no time now as I have an appointment elsewhere. I will just say that fear is not necesarily a bad thing, just as kindness is not always a good thing. I might also add that love can be a motivator, rather than the fear which John seems stuck on.



Still, maybe you guys might consider this text, in the interest of common denominators: Declaration Toward a Global Ethic

The Principles of a Global Ethic
1. - No new global order without a new global ethic!
II. - A fundamental demand: Every human being must be treated humanely.
III. - Irrevocable directives.
1. Commitment to a Culture of Non-violence and Respect for Life
2. Commitment to a Culture of Solidarity and a Just Economic Order
3. Commitment to a Culture of Tolerance and a Life of Truthfulness
4. Commitment to a Culture of Equal Rights and Partnership Between Men and Women
IV. - A Transformation of Consciousness!

http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/_includes/FCKcontent/File/TowardsAGlobalEthic.pdf

<3




Huniche
Forum-indlæg: 60
Område: Midtjylland
Dato: 15/1 2013 11:39

Undskyld mig, hvis jeg bliver lidt off-topic ved at prøve at komme med et kort svar på "Hvad er der galt med ateisme?"

Det, der er galt med ateisme, er, at den prøver at fjerne Gud fra mennesket - og omvendt.
Da Gud er den eneste, der kan bekæmpe djævelen, resulterer ateisme i, at vi står forsvarsløse over for ondskaben, uanset hvor meget vi ellers ved egen hjælp prøver at gøre det godt. Mennesket bliver derfor udsat for stadigt flere fristelser til at gøre ting, der strider imod menneskets samvittighed og fornuft - og som derved strider imod Gud og hele planen med vor eksistens - og når så fristelserne har fanget os, har vi ingen at bede om hjælp.
Selv i den mest sympatiske form går ateismen djævelens ærinde, da hans onde vilje er, at vi underkaster os materien. Man kan tale om mere eller mindre sympatisk ateisme (humanisme f.eks.), men i sidste ende hjælper de os lige lidt og er lige skadelige for mennesket. Der er to magter, vi kan følge: Guds og djævelens. At tro, at vi små mennesker selv kan have nogen magt i forhold til dem, er naivt og hovmodigt. Der er krig, og det er bare om at vælge, hvilken side, man vil kæmpe på, ellers ender man bare som satans nyttige idiot. Jeg har for nylig valgt side; den umiddelbart mest krævende. Selv om jeg snubler konstant, har jeg alle Guds Engle og Helgener klippefast ved min side som støtte.

Man kan altid bede englenes hærfører, den hellige ærkeengel Michael, om hjælp:

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

Hellige ærkeengel Mikael, forsvar os i kampen;
vær vort værn mod djævelens ondskab og efterstræbelser.
Gud kue ham; derom beder vi ydmygt;
og du, de himmelske hærskarers fyrste!
nedstyrt ved Guds kraft til helvedet Satan og de andre onde ånder, som strejfer omkring i verden til sjælenes fordærv.
Amen




Achocha
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Område: KBH
Dato: 15/1 2013 12:14



Ka-ching
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Område: Nordjylland
Dato: 15/1 2013 12:15

Huniche
De fleste ateister ville nok sige at man kan ikke fjerne noget som ikke eksisterer :D
Huniche
Forum-indlæg: 60
Område: Midtjylland
Dato: 16/1 2013 18:08

Ka-ching
Og det har de jo faktisk ganske ret i.
Men da Gud og djævelen eksisterer, hvad enten man benægter eller vil det eller ej, er det ganske irrelevant.
Hvis jeg var ignorant, kunne jeg være kynisk og sige, at ateisterne og sekularisterne kunne få lov at sejle i deres egen sø, og at deres fortabelse var deres eget problem, hvis de blot lod mig have min tro.
Dog er det er ikke blot deres eget problem, da djævelen er en magtsyg skiderik, der ikke lader sig nøje med dé sjæle, han har fordærvet; han ønsker at indfange alle aspekter af vore liv og samfund i hans råddenskab. Jo mere man giver ham, desto mere tager han. Derfor er aktiv modstand mod alt, der tjener han sag - samt kristen mission - en fundamental forudsætning ikke blot for Kirken som religiøs institution, men for at kærlighed og frihed på længere sigt overhovedet kan eksistere. Ligesom bæredygtighed og økologi er en forudsætning for, at vores fysiske omstændigheder kan eksistere i morgen, er troen på Gud, vores skaber (og for alle døbte: vores Far), en forudsætning for vores åndelige eksistens.
Man skal ikke save den gren over, som man sidder på.

Jeff
Forum-indlæg: 1943
Område: Sjælland
Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 16/1 2013 19:18 | Indlæg redigeret den: 16/1 2013 19:20

If you mean the unborn child, no. An unborn child is innocent and wil not, I believe, be deprived of eternal life because of the actions of its parents or some professionals. I do think the consequences for the adults concerned is an issue. This is the case, even if one does not believe adults have souls, by which I mean a psychological and social standpoint.


This did not answer my question.

The question was oriented to the value of the human life in light of the ultimate value of human souls.

This is made manifest in the logic of this sentence here:

In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and soul which constitute the human being .


and the text is replete with the continuum of this "human being" from "conception" onward, but makes its strongest textual linkage to the statement above just little later by deploying the same metaphors:

At every stage of his existence, man, created in the image and likeness of God, reflects “the face of his Only-begotten Son…


I could link to actual statements to this effect from official Catholic sources, but it is not necessary to do so, since we are still not discussing what Sam Harris actually said.

He did not mention Catholic doctrine or the Roman Catholic church at all. Full stop. I am not going to stop discussing your straw man, because I am not going to copy and paste the sentence in here yet another time.
Earthling
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Dato: 16/1 2013 23:01 | Indlæg redigeret den: 16/1 2013 23:08

Achocha
Off-topic! The topic is atheism, not theism - or spagetti monsters! :)


Ka-ching
De fleste ateister ville nok sige at man kan ikke fjerne noget som ikke eksisterer

Your theory will be rather tested if you run through this thread or some of the other threads around VK.
"Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God" - Heywood Broun


Jeff
Regardless of what you may or may not believe about the human soul, it is still possible to believe in the dignity and worth of the human person from conception onwards. That is my point. I´m sure you are smart enough to grasp it.

And if you go back and read my very first comment, I do NOT mention the Catholic Church, I mentioned religion. This was my original remark
Sam Harris seems very misinformed when he claims that religion inhibits Stem Cell Research, specifically naming embryonic stem cell research. I have yet to hear someone argue against embryonic research on the basis of a soul. The controversy arises because of the scientific evidence that a new human life comes into being when an egg and a sperm fuse and another completely new human life starts. The matter of a soul does not and need not come into the equation. This is evident in the fact that many non-believers are also concerned about embryonic research. - Dato: 4/1 2013 12:44


I further clarified what I meant here
I object to his isolating Christians for special mention, given that
(a) there are atheists out there who believe life begins at conception and oppose ESC research
(b) there are people of other faiths out there who believe life begins at conception and in a soul
(c) there are believers out there who agree with abortion, IVF, EST research, even working in these areas
(d) there are many people out there who actually think ESC research is all there is, and know very little about the alternatives or their success rate.

I also fail to see how the issue even needs to arise in a talk called misconceptions about atheism. - Dato: 6/1 2013 17:18


YOU dragged the Catholic Church into it, not me and not Sam Harris. You did it in your comment of 6/1 2013 11:52 when you said "we need to choose which religious doctrine we mean" and "I assume by your references and your own profile, that we mean Roman Catholicism". You also addressed two questions to me which are actually not relevant to what I said as I was not speaking about souls or the Catholic Church, but in general terms and in scientific terms. I suspect you posted them to try and make me look stupid or push me into a corner. Well, sorry, it didn´t work. And it won´t work.

And then you have the gall to tell me I am introducing red herrings and straw men! I KNOW Sam Harris "did not mention Catholic doctrine or the Roman Catholic church at all". I NEVER said he did. READ my comments, most specifically the two cited in this comment!

John
Forum-indlæg: 1388
Område: KBH
Dato: 17/1 2013 01:42

@ Huniche

Wow....hvor skal jeg starte...

-Hvorfor tror du på noget som helst af det, du snakker om?
-Har du nogensinde hørt om Epikuros' spørgsmål?
-Hvordan får du din veganisme til at stemme overens med at Yahwe beordrer dyredrab i det gamle testamente, og tillader det i det nye (eks. ved at spise det, in person, som Jesus)?
-Med at han beordrer slaveri i det gamle testamente, og tillader det i det nye (ja, forbyder slaver at gøre oprør og kommanderer dem at være lydige)?
-Med at han kommanderer kvinder at være deres mænd underdanige i alle ting, "på samme måde som mændene er underdanige til Jesus"?
-Hvad godt er der kommet af buddet om at dræbe hekse?

...start med dét.
Jeff
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Område: Sjælland
Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 17/1 2013 07:03 | Indlæg redigeret den: 17/1 2013 07:08

No, Earthling, the statement you quote comes following the this statement

Sam Harris seems very misinformed when he claims that religion inhibits Stem Cell Research, specifically naming embryonic stem cell research. I have yet to hear someone argue against embryonic research on the basis of a soul. The controversy arises because of the scientific evidence that a new human life comes into being when an egg and a sperm fuse and another completely new human life starts. The matter of a soul does not and need not come into the equation. This is evident in the fact that many non-believers are also concerned about embryonic research.

The human embryos in question arise out of one of three possibilities:
- “products of abortion”, usually of totally innocent, and usually healthy lives
- “by products “ of IVF treatment where up to 32 embryos are created for the sake of one viable pregnancy, the remainder being frozen, thrown out as rubbish or used in experimentation
- embryos specially created for use in experimentation.

The big issue is that embryonic reduces the human embryo to “raw material”, “products of conception”, “commodities”, matter to be manipulated and for experimentation. This is seen as fundamentally destructive, as well as a direct attack on human dignity and on human life at its most vulnerable, regardless of the issue concerning the presence or non-presence of a soul.

I find it very difficult to understand why Sam Harris seems unaware that there are several other viable and ethically sound alternatives: stem cells derived from adult tissue, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and pluripotent stem cells using adult stem cells, all of which are morally acceptable to people of faith. Top class scientists have abandoned the field of embryonic stem cell research. Last year, Geron, withdrew its significant financial support for ESR because it was not producing results. It is also worth noting that embryonic stem cell has produced little to justify itself despite huge investment. On the other hand, the alternatives have produced 73 successful treatments and something like 300 treatments are being developed. For my own part, I can say that Catholic scientists are actively involved in this exciting field of alternatives, and that these projects have the active support of the Catholic church, including financial sponsorship of a project in Australia and the recent contract between the Vatican and NeoStem, a pubic firm pioneering new ASC research. Once again, Sam Harris should inform himself a little better before he pronounces publicly in his generalizing and blinkered way on religion.



You will see how my response takes up yours when you look at my statement again:

First of all, we need to choose which religious doctrine we mean, here I assume by your references and your own profile, that we mean Roman Catholicism.

Of course, that church is taking a position on the life of embryos as a mortal matter. Technically, its more nuanced position is that the embryo must be treated as if it is ensouled with out a specific claim to if, when and how this could happen. I get all that. And even more specifically, that all human organisms are the unique stuff which can have or receive a soul. This same rhetoric has been round since the '70s when the Vatican started to create its modern doctrine on abortion, it is nothing new to me. So, too, is the argument that it is a "sin" to interfere with "eternal life" of that organism by precluding its ensoulment, regardless of whether that happens at so-called conception of when the umbellical cord is cut and the first independent breaths are taken or any time before or after that.

However, your interpretation of one single sentence by Sam Harris is simply going way to far. Your zeal to try to find something clever people fail to understand, seems to lead you to assume that people don't know something it only takes about 5 minutes to get your head around. Harris used one sentence which I will type out again for you:

"The fact that we're not funding stem cell at the federal level does have something to do with what christians believe about conception and the human soul".

Note that Harris does not say "because christians believe that embryos have souls". He knows the open ambiguity of the matter. In my opinion, he actually shows a kind of regard for the nuances within some christian doctrines on this matter. However, what he is pointing out is that belief about souls (even as a matter of the ensoulment of an organism where it is not yet known whether it has happened or not) should not be part of our interest in the ethics of ESR.

Let me be more clear: Our ethical interests in science should not entertain arguments that derive their ethical importance on anything having to do with the eternal plan for an organism.


Just because of my mention of Catholic doctrine in order to gain some specificity over what could have otherwise ranged from Hinduism to Pastafaranism does not mean that you are not using it as a straw man w.r.t. the arguments of Sam Harris' statement and souls in general - that was the straw man I was referring to, a point I already made much earlier to you (already in the so-called "zeal" paragraph). So, you are simply wrong in your outrage of my so-called gall at telling you are propping up straw men, or at least what you are supposing is the straw man I was referring to.

If you have anything meaningfully further about that statement, then please make it, but right now you are still attacking points that are not assailable, since Harris made no explicit statements about the nature of souls or not and their explicit role in ethics or not - you did (read your statement quoted above again).

Finally, I must tell you that if you continue to portray everything I write as if it has some personal agenda of the kind you mention, "I suspect you posted them to try and make me look stupid or push me into a corner", then I see no point in ever discussing anything with you directly, since I just don't like all this personal stuff in a discussion of this kind. It is unnecessarily distracting, a kind of red herring of its own.

I am interested in precision and facts. This does not mean that everything I argue is 100% water-tight, I am just saying that I have no other kind of interest here. If I make moves that push an adherent of a particular doctrine or ideology up against that ideology, it is to align facts and variations and possibly tease out tensions and aberrations. That is the very nature of debate.

Earthling
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Dato: 17/1 2013 11:41

Jeff
I am really not interested in pursuing this with you. You put up the video. I made a comment about it referring to three different things. You isolated one of my comments which was a general comment because SH was speaking in general terms about religion. Note, I didn´t chose the video or the original comments.

I already told you you were reading far too much into my comment. You accused me of having a hidden agenda and of going after SH with zeal, neither of which is true, and both of which are very unjust.

The remark about Catholics being actively invovled in alternatives to ESC research was simply a concrete example of people affiliated to a religion engaged in stem cell therapy. I can´t believe you are taking it out of its context or that you didn´t uderstand it in that context.

I might also add that I have no idea what document you are quoting from in your previous comment, but neither quote is to be found in the document to which I referred you, a document which sets out very clearly the Catholic position regarding bio-ethics, and which doesn´t metnion the word, "soul" once as far as I can see. In fact, it is addressed to all men and women of good will who may be interested in reading it, and is well informed, drawing as it does on science, social studes and philosophy.
DIGNITAS PERSONAE
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20081208_dignitas-personae_en.html

I didnt´say Harris made explicit statements about the nature of souls. He said, "The fact that we're not funding stem cell at the federal level does have something to do with what christians believe about conception and the human soul". That is what I commented on. And you took me wrongly to task. Admit it.



Jeff
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Denne bruger har i år '14 doneret penge til at holde Vegetarkontakt.dk kørende.
Dato: 17/1 2013 14:30 | Indlæg redigeret den: 17/1 2013 14:32

In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and S-O-U-L which constitute the human being


This is the second time I am quoting the same sentence from your document in just a brief span of posts. This is rather frustrating. And I am not going to repeat the rest of that post's point. Read it again yourself, if you care to.

And yes, I stand by my comment about the zeal with which you jumped on the one comment by Sam Harris concerning souls (and ESCR), which made up a large portion of everything you wrote to me in that post w.r.t. the video. over several paragraphs. (Where, to be clear, you indicated the question of alternatives). I accept your second motive, however, it does not undo the whole of your response.

There is nothing to admit here otherwise. If you don't feel that it was with zeal, well, that is rather another matter, however, there is no objective source to settle the truth of that matter, hence, it is relegated to the public square of opinion, where I, too, am entitled.

Again, you continue to argue and twist and turn in a direction which has nothing to do with the original point of posting the video segment. I must at least your success in derailing the discussion from the original force of the argument being made, which had absolutely nothing with what you have now kept me occupied with these many days.




Earthling
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Dato: 17/1 2013 15:21 | Indlæg redigeret den: 17/1 2013 15:22

Jeff, this is my last time saying that any argument made in that document can also be embraced by people who do not share the Catholic faith. Drop out that sentence and read the document. It still stands without it.

My zeal as you call it was merely a reflection in the public square of opinion where I am also entitled to be. There was no reason, absolutely none, for suggesting I have a hidden agenda and telling me what will or will not be tolerated here. It´s something I´d expect from others here, not you.

I am not twisting or turning anything. That is precisely what you are doing. You made accusations and read too much into what I said based on your assumptions and your interpretation. I have every right to respond.

I didn´t chose to derail any discussion. If I kept you "occupied", that was of your own choosing. You actually said at the very beginning that my original comment was not even going to get a single word out of you... It´s a pity you didn´t stop there. You made an issue out of it. Do you have a vested interest in ESC research or something?

<3
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