• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

Religion Contorts Morality? Oh Please!

So Greta Christina has a post titled How Religion Contorts Morality, and I think that’s nonsense. First off, we have a category error: “religion” is not an agent such that it can contort anything. Only people can contort morality, if such a thing called “morality” actually maps to the real-world in the first place. You might be tempted to think this is just semantics, but it’s not. Speaking precisely minimizes error and misunderstanding. Of course, “Why I Think Religious Person X Is Wrong About Morality” is nowhere near as provocative a title, so I guess I see where she’s coming from there.

Anyways, I’ve seen some pretty contorted “morality” from atheists, too. For example, Tommykey, who apparently thinks it’s wrong to torture terrorists for information, but okay for a woman to kill her unborn child simply because the father possesses unsavory characteristics, or because she thinks she might have a tough time coping with the burdens of parenthood.

In my opinion, that’s about as contorted as can be – but it has nothing to do with atheism, because atheism can’t contort anything.

12 Responses

  1. “In my opinion, that’s about as contorted as can be – but it has nothing to do with atheism, because atheism can’t contort anything. ”

    But atheism and religion aren’t equivalent.

    It would be fair to say that theism can’t contort anything like morality. But religions (which were created by people) certainly can and do.

    Greta Christina’s only error, if you can call it that, is not pointing out the origin of religions.

  2. Hey there. I wasn’t charging Greta with error, at least not beyond my gripe with her title. Do some theists contort morality? Of course. Yet, every other variant of person has been known to do the same.

    But atheism and religion aren’t equivalent.

    So? They both lack the capacity to contort anything, and the claim loses muster when we’re more accurate with our language. That’s the point.

    It would be fair to say that theism can’t contort anything like morality. But religions (which were created by people) certainly can and do.

    I disagree. Religion can’t contort anything. A religious person — or any other person for that matter — can. Why imply some sort of connection between religion and morality?

  3. We have a great example of an atheist arguably contorting morality – and religion – in the case of Jim Jones, by the way.

  4. “I disagree. Religion can’t contort anything.”

    What is your definition of ‘religion’?

  5. Hi NotAScientist,

    Would secular humanism be an equivalent of religion? It is an invention of people that provides moral guidelines just like religion. I could be wrong but I would imagine Greta Christina as well as most atheists you meet on the internet would consider themselves secular humanists. Do you think the post would have been better if cl had said “secular humansim” instead of “atheism?”

    Cl,

    When I read Greta Christina’s post it seemed less like she was talking about people distorting morality using religion as much as religious thought contaminating the process of moral thought because you cannot adapt to new information. For example, religious people are less likely to say “now that we know genocide is wrong we have to fess up that we did bad stuff in the past and start doing good stuff” because The Bible has examples of divinely commanded genocide (of course, now Dr. Craig seems to side with Paul Copan’s view that what was described as genocide wasn’t really genocide) while secular people can say “what were we thinking back then?! Let’s not do that anymore!” I agree that she doesn’t fully explain her case when she says that “religion” contorts morality because A) she’s only speaking of one religion, she really should have said Christianity or Christian Biblical inerrancy, and B) she’s not talking about morality in general but how morality is thought about and discussed. Since most Christians today condemn genocide her real complaint is that the thought process requires some to justify past bad behavior (even if their current behavior is more acceptable to her). Perhaps her post should have been titled “How religious thought corrupts moral epistemology” but that is also less provocative.

  6. NotAScientist,

    Why does it matter?

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not interested in a dispute over definitions. In my opinion, it is sufficient and reasonable to promote clarity — which is the end goal of criticizing the statement, “Religion contorts morality.”

    Matt,

    When I read Greta Christina’s post it seemed less like she was talking about people distorting morality using religion as much as religious thought contaminating the process of moral thought because you cannot adapt to new information.

    Problem is, although some religious people have trouble adapting to new information and/or conceding error, that’s just wrong. There’s nothing about religion which requires inability to concede error or adapt to new information, and there’s nothing that prevents a secular person from doing the same.

    For example, religious people are less likely to say “now that we know genocide is wrong we have to fess up that we did bad stuff in the past and start doing good stuff”

    Personally, I rarely endorse statements of the variety, “act X is morally Y.” I endorse statements of the variety, “When is act X morally Y or ~Y?” So, I immediately disagree with anybody who says “genocide is wrong,” because I can easily think of instances where genocide seems right. And I’m not even an exterminator!

    Perhaps her post should have been titled “How religious thought corrupts moral epistemology” but that is also less provocative.

    To me, that’s just the same problem re-introduced, and again, there’s nothing that prevents a person from doing the same with a secular train of thought.

  7. Well, religion can’t really do anything. The more I think about it, religion is a lot like a drug: its effects on a user’s mentality can taint the world via the human agent, but by itself it does not do anything. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of those under the influence of a religion. I’ve never seen Islam bomb a building, just like I’ve never seen a can of beer crash a car. Anyone else smell some irony? I imagine a few atheists are proponents of drug legalization or decriminalization, but religion? It’s gotta go. Oh well, I’m digressing. Crackpot religious people are worse than ignorant, belligerent atheists (but not by much).

    Religion, morality, secular humanism, etc. are just ideas. They’re inherently inept. The only time they even have meaning, arguably, is when we interpret them and apply them. So, Greta obviously meant religious thought corrupts moral epistemology, but I don’t really care. Atheistic thought can corrupt moral epistemology just as well.

    cl,

    You said,

    I endorse statements of the variety, “When is act X morally Y or ~Y?” So, I immediately disagree with anybody who says “genocide is wrong,” because I can easily think of instances where genocide seems right. And I’m not even an exterminator!

    Are there instances where abortion could seem right? What about instances where torturing terrorists is wrong?

  8. ThinkingEmotions,

    So, Greta obviously meant religious thought corrupts moral epistemology, but I don’t really care. Atheistic thought can corrupt moral epistemology just as well.

    That’s exactly what I was getting at, and no amount of defining the word “religion” or “theism” or “atheism” can change this fact. This is why I said what I said to NotAScientist at June 1, 2011 at 2:02 PM.

    Are there instances where abortion could seem right? What about instances where torturing terrorists is wrong?

    Torturing anybody for the sheer thrill of it–or financial gain–is always wrong in my book. I’m not sure about abortion. I’m tempted to say that cases where childbirth might kill the mother would be an exception, but something doesn’t sit right there.

  9. I think of religion, atheism, conservatism, liberalism, culture, common sense, reason, logic, etc., all as basically packets of information waiting to be picked up by more brains. They’re memes; no more or less intentionally malicious or beneficial than genes.

    okay for a woman to kill her unborn child

    At what stage? I think abortions in the third trimester are very problematic morally speaking, but it’s hard to imagine any moral contortions needed to take a “morning-after” pill.

  10. woodchuck64,

    I feel that. I think of most things the same way: morally neutral until an agent’s motive enters the picture. TV, drugs, alcohol… most things can be “good” or “bad” depending on the situation. At least, that’s my gut feeling about morality.

    As for the abortion thing, like I said, I’m not really sure on it all. I agree with you on the third trimester remark, but I think even first trimester abortions are morally wrong. However, I’m certainly not interested in a semantic battle, which seems to be where these types of discussions usually go from here, e.g., “Does a ten-week-old baby really count as a life?” I’m not interested in that game.

    I would, however, like an explanation from Tommykey — but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I’m very curious as to what makes abortion morally permissible, but torture not.

  11. cl,

    You said:

    I’m not sure about abortion. I’m tempted to say that cases where childbirth might kill the mother would be an exception, but something doesn’t sit right there.

    Unfortunately, difficult moral dilemnas exist in this world.

    Take a look at this wiki article on the Principle of Double Effect.

    (If you scroll down to where it says “Medicine”, there’s a paragraph that concisely ties it in to a procedure intended to save the life of the mother, that results in the death of the unborn child). The key is the intended outcome.

    Here’s a Q&A ( no. 6)relating to that topic:

    There is more than one medical way of handling an ectopic pregnancy. The relevant moral question is whether the method or action is in fact a killing of the child. If so, that is a direct abortion, which is never permissible for any reason. “Direct means that the destruction of the child is willed as the end or the means to another end. Sometimes ectopic pregnancies are handled this way, killing the child but leaving the tube intact. Such an action is morally wrong.

    However, if what is done is that the damaged portion of the tube is removed because of the threat it poses to the mother, that is not a direct abortion, even if the child dies. What is done is the same thing that would be done if the tube were damaged from some other cause. The mother is not saved by the death of the child but by the removal of the tube. Because the death of the child in this case is a side effect which is not intended, and because the saving of the mother’s life is not brought about by the death of the child, such a removal of the damaged portion of the tube is morally permissible. The ethical rule that applies here is called the Principle of the Double Effect.

    (emphasis mine)

    To put paraphrase the point of the above, I would say: Direct abortion is always murder, whatever the circumstance, because bringing about the death of the innocent child isn’t just a consequence, it was the intended goal.

    Direct abortion is underlied by the outright intention of NOT saving the child — it, by its very nature, involves the active willing that the life in the womb be destroyed. The will should be that both the mother and the unborn live. That is not the will of abortionists.

  12. cl,

    However, I’m certainly not interested in a semantic battle, which seems to be where these types of discussions usually go from here.

    If you believe in the soul, there is a valuable life as soon as the soul unites with biological material, granted. If you don’t believe in the soul (as I do not), the time continuum from a single cell to a fully functioning, self-aware human being implies that life, personhood and even consciousness should be best understood as continuums, not as discrete points. My moral view would be guided by that understanding (which doesn’t necessarily make it easier).

    But if I believed in the soul, I would most likely believe abortion at all stages to be immoral and so I certainly don’t fault you for that belief.

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