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March 23, 2005

A rebuttal to James Joyner

From James Joyner at Outside the Beltway:

As a devout secularist, religious rationales for political positions don't much appeal to me. It should be clear, though, that one can be both conservative and Christian and come to different conclusions on issues that leaders of the so-called Religious Right paint as no brainers.

The problem with James' question is that it seems to leave no room for someone to arrive at the same opinion as those he refers to as the “leaders of the so-called Religious Right” in an honest, and original way. I'm not sure who he would list as these “leaders” but I rarely listen to or read material from any of the people whose names are tossed out as “leaders of the so-called Religious Right” such as James Dobson, Pat Roberson, Gary Bauer, etc. I instead read the news, and research original material when available. But I arrive at the same conclusion as they do on most things.

We still have the same old problem that religious thought is dismissed as irrelevant, while ideas and opinions derived absent of consideration of what is traditionally seen as religion is accepted. Note James's use of the adjective “devout”. I applaud this step of honesty, but then he ruins it by trying to make a distinction between secularist and religious. This would presuppose a definition of religious that narrowly defines it, and limits it to artificial boundaries. The frame work of one's view of life, morality, the universe and meaning is one's religion. Sometimes it's called World View or personal philosophy, but in the individual it is their religion. With such a definition, each person then would really have their own religion, since no person's world view is exactly identical to someone else's. We are each unique.

The Sanctity of Life (sanctity meaning the value as an overarching principle) is not something isolated to one tradition or even to theists. The idea that without a universal respect for the value of life, life itself loses meaning, is an idea separate from belief in God. An inconsistent example of that would be the way many Atheists and agnostics oppose the death penalty. They see the taking of a human life, even that of a wanton criminal, as a devaluing of all life. Yet, many of those same people have no problem with euthanasia.

Whether one says, “I won't touch the stove because I can see it's hot” (faith in partial evidence) or one says “I won't touch the stove because I was told it is hot” (faith in authority) the decision is still the result of faith -- and remains so until the stove is actually touched. The stove we fear, euthanasia, we fear because of both evidence (the Holocaust) as well as faith (traditional religion/personal philosophy).

The crux of part of the debate is whether it is moral to allow an incapacitated person to go on living when there's a hint that they might not want it. That is the Terri Schiavo case in a nutshell. Regardless of which side wins, someone's morality will be forced on the rest of us. Some fear the idea of being on a machine more than they fear the idea of being killed because not enough effort was made to bring them back. I find that a rather odd mentality, but one which so many embrace. Unfortunately we can't all have our own private laws, and therefore one over-riding principle needs to be established for everyone. But surely we can agree that it doesn't need to be dictated by the courts, especially by one lone state court judge that ignores evidence as well as basic morality.

Posted by Danny Carlton at March 23, 2005 02:58 PM

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Your post was excellent until the last sentence.

I wonder where your authoritative knowledge of what was in Judge Greer's mind originates. To imply motivation is not a generous thing, nor is it a wise or fair thing. It is most certainly not a Christain thing.

You have--as indicated by earliers posts--information which you believe to be credible, which calls into question the past state of Ms Schiavo's condition. But to leap from that to the conclusion that Judge Greer is corrupt is a leap of faith, not logic.

Posted by: John Burgess at March 23, 2005 03:15 PM

The hearsay evidence of an adulterous husband who will inherit 6 figures is fine. The testimony of numerous nurses, family and friends is dismissed.

The medical testimony of pro-euthanasia advocates is accepted. The medical testimony of all others, regardless of specialty and expertise, is rejected

The advice of both GALs is completely ignored.

And this is the best one...he orders no food or liquid by mouth because he says she might choke.

Do the math.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at March 23, 2005 03:29 PM

Your concept of secularism as a "religion" is laughable. Understand, I am not minimizing or criticizing religion. But religion is based on faith in a higher being. Secularism, like science, is based on empiricism, reason, and logic. Put simply, the absence of religion is not religion. To say otherwise is moronic. Also, am I correct in thinking that you are comparing the discontinuation of artificial feeding methods from this woman to be the same as the Holocaust? This is the "evidence" you are using to keep this poor woman without a cerebral cortex alive? Also, one could hardly call the Holocaust "euthanasia." Rather, it was "murder," or "genocide." There is a difference. You people haven't the slightest concept of reason, logic, or context. Finally, nothing is "dictated" by the courts. The result here was "dictated" by the facts, which were applied to the law, which was "dictated" by the Florida state legislature. "One lone state court judge?" Try the state court trial judge, the Florida Court of Appeals, the Florida Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, a federal distict court judge, and the 12 judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (on a 10 to 2 basis). There has never been a "right to die" case as thorougly litigated as this one.

Posted by: Mike R at March 23, 2005 09:16 PM

Mike R, demanding that the definition of religion require a higher being is a common rationalization made by those who wish to pretend their beliefs are more than beliefs. Secularism is based on faith since the dismissal of other beliefs requires faith. Can you prove there is no God?

Hitler's programs began with euthanizing the infirm. It later led to killing the unfit (the mentally and physically handicapped) the ultimately to killing the "unwanted" (gypsies, homosexuals, Jews and Christians who refused to betray their faith). The logic is in recognizing the inevitable end, by the attributes of the beginning.

The facts were ignored by Judge Greer as easily as you just did. The other courts rejected appeals of specific arguments of the case, not the whole case.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at March 24, 2005 04:11 AM

Your logic is a bit lacking. I believe in God, therefore I believe in a religion. I don't believe in God, therefore I believe in a religion. The truth is, the concept that secularism, agnosticism, or atheism constitutes "religion" is a necessary construct for you folks. If you don't take that position, you can't argue for injecting religion into our schools or governments. That is, your argument is that we have to let Christianity into schools and government to counterbalance the "religion" of secularism.

Please understand, I was raised Catholic myself, attended 12 years of parochial school, and am by no means anti-Christian or anti-religion. However, I simply can't equate secularism (which, after all, just means separating our personal religious beliefs from our government) with the imposition of a "secular" religion (an oxymoron if there ever was one).

Finally, I don't quite know what to say to someone who equates American law of all 50 states granting precedence to the wishes of the incapacitated person to Nazi extermination of the weak, infirm, or other groups. The present situation is not "euthanasia." Euthanasia is killing someone who is gravely ill but still able to function without extraordinary means. Euthanasia, as far as I know, is illegal in all states, or all but a few. Using your logic, even those persons with living wills would be unable to prevent extraordinary measures from being imposed upon them.

Finally, it seems to me that if you really were interested in saving lives, you might pay some attention to the fact that 40 million plus Americans are without life insurance. Children are being killed by gun violence (see Minnesota). Millions are dying of AIDS in Africa. Many Republicans were dismayed that the US Supreme Ct denied states the right to execute children. The United States stands with only a very few countries worldwide (notably such luminaries as Iran, Saudia Arabia, etc.) in allowing the death penalty at all. People are willing to trample all over the laws of the United States to save one woman, but won't give up their firearms to protect the thousands and thousands who die from gun violence each year. Will I hear from you the next time a young child is killed with a gun? I hope so, because I think your enthusiasm would be helpful. Somehow, though, I don't think so.

Posted by: Mike R at March 24, 2005 09:12 AM

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