Sat 1st Nov 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

We should never give in to moral relativism

Whether one is Labour or Tory, believer or not, you can’t change the natural laws

By on Monday, 23 January 2012

I happened to catch the repeat broadcast of Desert Island Discs last Friday. The castaway was Paul Johnson and as one would expect from a man of his age, someone who is also a very well-known journalist and writer, he had some fascinating anecdotes to recount, all told with panache. An Oxford contemporary of Margaret Thatcher’s, he had actually asked her out –but she had turned him down; something to do with her new hair-do. Now they are old friends and when he invites her out to dinner he makes sure he tells her some of her late husband’s jokes as she loves to hear them repeated.

Johnson also had the temerity to strike up conversation with Churchill when he bumped into him after the War, and asked him the secret of his success. The great man immediately replied, “Conservation of energy.” He explained that he never stood up when he could sit down and he never sat down when he could lie down (I must remember that.) Johnson mimicked him perfectly. As a boy he had had a crush on the child actress Shirley Temple and was delighted to meet her years later when she had become the US ambassador to Ghana.

Johnson admitted that he regretted some of the things he had written when he was young, such as his damning verdict on Anthony Eden. The chief influence on him seemed to be his mother, widowed when Johnson was 14 and who lived to 90. On her deathbed Johnson told her she would not spend long in Purgatory. She replied: “But I’ve often criticised the clergy.”

These were her last words. The sudden death of his father, he said, when he was just beginning to get to know him, was the only tragic thing that had happened to him in his life. Asked by Kirsty Young, the interviewer, about his education he told her he had been born a Catholic and sent to Stonyhurst College; he approved of the Jesuit formation he had received there: “They teach you the difference between right and wrong.”

It was an interesting interview and I enjoyed it – apart from one moment. Kirsty Young was probing Johnson slightly (though only in the light format of the programme; it wasn’t a John Humphreys-type interrogation): in his earlier days had he not criticised the sexually permissive society? What did he think of David Cameron’s brand of Conservatism and his support for gay marriage? Was Johnson now a man out of his time?

Johnson’s response was urbane: “Time moves on.” He added, “Cameron is entitled to his views” and “I don’t want to stand in the way of progress”. He had the perfect opportunity here to state the Christian teaching on marriage; instead, although he might not have intended to give this impression, he sounded entirely relativistic. What would his old Jesuit masters at Stonyhurst have made of it?

In his speech last September to the German parliament, the Bundestag, Pope Benedict gave a critique of moral relativism and defended the natural law tradition. He said: “The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term.” If only Johnson could have simply said to Kirsty Young: “Whether you are Conservative or Labour, a believer or non-believer, you can’t change the natural law; it doesn’t change with the times.” It would have been an awkward moment and it might have caused him some embarrassment to say it, but it would have been the truth. An opportunity was lost.

  • LetdownofChi

    “He had the perfect opportunity here to state the Christian teaching on marriage”, indeed he had the opportunity, but his response so wishy washy that it  gave me the impression that he was condoning the present liberal attitude to everything!

  • Anonymous

    Ah but Relativism comes in varied disguises these days Ma’am.

    I think the major problem amongst Catholics these days is ignorance and arrogant wishful thinking; they have a litle knowledge on what the Church teaches and therefore they can select certain parts they wish to accentuate [while suppressing the awkward aspects - sometimes to the point of dismissal] and combine it with their own version of a ‘common sense approach’ without any true recognition to what the Church truly teaches and why…

    But this is where the arrogance sets in and it becomes “What REAL Catholics think..” and ultimately turns into a ‘Don’t be misled – this is what Catholics REALLY think about this issue”

    If there was ever a time we needed the teaching of St Augustine – it’s NOW!
    For if you read/listen to Catholic Commentators and Journalists there are two pernicious poisons pervading their paradigms:

    Donatism: A worthiness – a ‘deserved’ respect and a credibility to speak with authority and judge the issues according to their own standards and the actions/opinions/beliefs of others accordingly. Who they are and what they do gives them a right to be an arbiter. The sins or lowly positions of others automatically discredit their arguments.

    Pelagianism: An earned respect – a record of proven devotion and ‘sacrifice’ and participation and belonging – giving them some tenure – credibility; and ergo those who do not participate/belong/can prove they have earned their position – have no right to either speak or question or argue with those who have ‘given up so much and deserve their position’. Those who have not ‘earned’ their right to speak are automatically to be dismissed.

    Hence the generic responses of these people revolving round two major fallacies:

    For Donatism it’s the The Last Man Standing fallacy – that they are the deserving, they are those in authority and those in positions of responsibility and therefore their position is the right one; their arguments must be given credibility and accepted unconditionally because of who they are and the temporal power and authority they wield. “We make the rules therefore they are axiomatically right.”

    For the Pelagians it’s the reverse – the Martyr/Underdog fallacy whereby they have earned their position to speak and be given credence through their endurance, their struggle, their sacrifice, their poor oppressed position – their victimhood. They are the oppressed minority who has endured so much hardship against the oppressor and the cruel, uncharitable forces of temporal power, they stand shoulder to shoulder with the weak and vulnerable  – therefore they are axiomatically right.

    Now previously in other ages Catholics usually veered towards or fell into one of these types – doctrinaire authoritarian judgmental sexually repressive jansenists or liberal progressive morally-pragmatic social – ‘reformers’….

    Yet ironically today there’s no need to reside merely in one of the camps when both are such effective tools for enforcing one’s position ; there’s a schizophrenia at work where the ‘new Catholic-lite commentators’ dwell in both camps and appeal to donatist and pelagian positions either alternately or simultaneously according to the circumstances – brow-beating with their own authority and academic/training credentials while at the same time claiming  justification via victimhood or being on the side of the suffering underdog.

    It’s amazing how many appeals are made to ‘what the Church teaches’ by appeals to mere authority of individuals rather than the Magisterium [where invariably it is NOT what the Church 'wholly' teaches and is merely some aspect which may be extra-contextually imposed on an argument] while at the same time it is justified as a resolution to ‘social justice’ defending those who are oppressed in their victimhood or potential victimhood or the vague possibility that it might be detrimental, or uncharitable towards them.

    To cover the cracks and hide all the flaws/gaping holes – Cover all this with a layer of the plaster of complacency , ignorance of the actual facts and a denial of anything which may be awkward or an enemy of unity which might cause dissension or a little boat-rocking or might be seen by an outsider as unjust and uncharitable.

    Hence recently there have been online battles between Catholic commentators on issues such as Civil Partnerships and the Church’s authentic position on them. Is the CDF ‘duty to oppose’ & the CBCEW ‘strongly oppose’ same-sex unions now defunct given Archbishop Nichols & Catholic Voices say they have nothing to do with Civil Partnerships and only refer to Gay Marriage?

    Arguments over the due concerns over the euthanising capacity of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
    Catholic Voices representatives and Catholic bloggers and healthcare workers say there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the provisions within it. Therefore the accelerated death of the sick and terminally ill CANNOT happen; because Catholic medical practitioners and ethicists formulated the regulations and the Bishops endorse it – therefore we can get back in our boxes and not worry our pretty little heads about it and stop being so uncharitably divisive – and stop threatening the palliative care movement by suggesting there might be something wrong with it….

    Grave concerns over Contraception, underage sex and Abortions via Connexions in Catholic schools.
    We are told yet again by the Catholic Voices representatives that we are scaremongering and promoting a conspiracy theory; that there are two sides to every story and the school has the right to impose a Catholic ethos over everything that happens within its walls – therefore contraception provision, abortifacient prescription and abortion referrals simply DO NOT HAPPEN – the Bishops would simply not permit it….Therefore we are told to shut up and stop trouble-making.

    Arguments over the Church’s authentic teaching of what is required for the reception of Holy communion as taught by Pius X in Quam Singulari rather than the ‘official position/code of practice’ of Diocesan and parish quangos – We are told [yet again by the same 'authorative' catholic commentators]  that obviously a Child needs to be fully instructed and it’s cruel to force a sacrament on a poor child who doesn’t know what’s happening and the authorities know what they’re doing and have a right to prevent violations of the rules…how can you let a child who has no notion of sin or guilt receive the sacrament of penance let alone go forward for first holy communion? – especially when they belong to a non-participating family…?
    Therefore anyone who says ” But Quam Singulari says they are all totally different issues and you can’t…” etc
    …can be dismissed as ignorant of the complexities and pastoral concerns within the issues. The Diocesan authorities know what they are doing.

    Therefore when it comes to any moral quandary or ethical issue relativism, situationism, pragmatism and preference utilitarianism now hold their sway with fallacious appeals to authority and appeals to sentiment….meanwhile what the Church TRULY, FULLY teaches can be dismissed, ignored or simply repudiated as irrelevant….

    …by People who fervently declare that they are nothing but absolutely orthodox and defending/promoting what the Church teaches!!!

    Previously we only saw this on the political scene – where Catholics who were more leftist would create a Socialist Utopian democratising homogenising view of the Church – those who were more economically neo-con libertarian would see the Church as ruggedly individualistic and the enemy of a society per se and more interested in the salvation and freedom of individual souls who should not be tyrannised by any collective enforcing they should contribute unwillingly…

    But today this Trans-Cafeteria Catholicism has taken on overwhleming proportions – the teaching can be used and abused to be accomodated within any structure iinto which I wish it to fit.

    The self-delusion is endemic!

  • EFWDeal

    “Whether you are Conservative or Labour, a believer or non-believer, you can’t change the natural law; it doesn’t change with the times.”
    But the Conservative and Labour parties certainly do shift with the wind.!
    Read recently that Cameron wanted Thatchell to be a Life Peer!

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the myth of moral absolutism. When theists proclaim they are moral they obtain those morals from others. Ultimately they may claim that these are written down in some book. The problem is that the book is hopelessly self contradictory. But then the superiors of that particular version of theism can claim some supernatural communication not available to others. Whatever the version given out, isn’t it strange that whatever the moral message is for that time period it coincides with the well being of  those superiors?

    In fact there is nothing absolute about any morals, theists shift with the times like anybody else. The only problem is that they are so far behind current thinking their morals are almost always deficient.

  • Anonymous

    Ah the obscenity of relativism – the only moral absolute is that there are no moral absolutes…hence everything can be justified or condemned according to fleeting whim or zeitgeist or the collective social contract or the best interests of those involved – a situationism meets and pragmatism meets an accommodating preference utilitarianism…

    Exceptions to the rules means there are no rules…

    Why didn’t you throw in Euthyphro into your argument too Acleron?
    Are things right because they’re right or right because some supernatural power wants it that way? There is no answer to that if you discredit the Catholic answer that God is Goodness, Truth and Love itself – therefore you can dismiss the rightness or wrongness of anything except according to that which affects the best interests of those concerned.

    There is no arbiter of what is right or wrong – therefore everything is arbitrary and we merely submit to the ethics of power.

    Therefore murder, theft, bearing false witness, treason, war, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, judicial murder, rape, tyranny, violations of people’s rights, dignity, freedom, conscience…all of these are relative…we can determine these ourselves and act accordingly and pick and choose and alter our perspectives and deliberations accordingly as we float along the sea of eternity…like dead fish…

  • Ryan

    As someone who finished school recently, I can tell you now that any “grave concerns” you have regarding contraception provision and abortion referrals etc. via Connexions in Catholic schools ARE unfounded.

  • Anonymous

    Tell that to the Connexions administrators who state differently – that their provisions are universal and available at every source ; and the pro-Life organisations which have gathered hundreds of testimonies regarding the ongoing scandal within Catholic schools in this regard.

  • Ryan

    At my school, pages in connexions publications which related to contraception and abortion had been torn out by teachers before they were given to us

  • Anonymous

    It is becoming clear that a list of rules on getting on with each other is developed during biological and social evolution, no god required.

    But to take as an example, catholics, their morals have changed over the years. It wasn’t that many years ago that I heard relatives saying that it was immoral to eat meat on a friday. Of course, we all know that was put in place to bolster the profits of the monks. Catholics seem to think that testing the faith of individuals could be done by torture and often resulted in the live burning of the victim. Therefore murder, lying, tyranny etc were ok then.These rules were their morals. At the moment they think that homosexuals are abhorrent, that sex out of marriage is sinful etc. Those attitudes, ie the morals, will also change with time. 

    Their claim to have anything absolute is pretty hollow. And as for the criticism of those who understand that morals are relative, always have been and always will be, it is quite laughable. 

    To think deeply about what is right and wrong, to understand what is correct and what should not be done are some of the finest aspirations of the human intellect. To blindly accept somebody else’s rules, made for their own benefit, without thought is the obscenity.

  • Anonymous

    In other words somebody in your school or parish acted independently and conformed to the authentic Catholic mores of the School and did their Bishop’s job for him? The CESEW has instead endorsed the activities of Connexions. [and don't forget - even if it's not happening in isolated schools - the school is still paying for Connexions - who will perform these functions elsewhere - do you think those putting their money in the collection plate realise it's helping fund an organisation which promotes underage sex by providing contraception and sex advice as well as providing confidential abortions via abortifacients & referrals - anywhere! Let alone in a Catholic school!]

  • Mikethelionheart


    Can you provide some evidence that meat was banned on a Friday so as to boost the profits of monks please?

  • Ryan

    In answer to your first question, yes. The only point I was trying to make is that since it is possible (as demonstrated by my school) for a school to benefit from some connexions services, such as careers advice, while rejecting contraception and abortion advice, there is no particular reason to think other Catholic schools aren’t doing the same. I would be surprised if they weren’t. Catholic schools tend to get a lot of criticism on this site, but its often from people who don’t really know what is happening in them. They’re really not as bad as people think…

  • Anonymous

    Ryan – are you being serious?
    PLEASE – have a think about what you’re saying.

  • Ryan

    Not sure what you’re getting at

  • Anonymous

    I am sure that Francis Phillips does not intend to confuse the issues of moral relativism and natural law.

    As can be inferred from Pope Benedict’s comment it is now only a few Catholic theologians who still accept the theory of natural law. Fundamentalist Muslims and conservative evangelical Christians make no use of the theory of natural law in their moral teaching, but that does not mean that they are moral relativists. 

  • Anonymous

    What do Connexions do? Irrespective of the fact that the public promotion of contraception/abortion has been removed in isolated oases like your school – what of the private consultation/counselling? And they’re getting paid – and so are able to do everything on their agenda elsewhere! You can’t merely extract a part from the whole – it’s like saying ‘didn’t Hitler build wonderful Autobahns’

  • Charles Martel

    I have a question for all you Catholics out there. Is it just me, or is this happening everywhere now? People who I believed to be orthodox Catholics tell me ‘I don’t approve of abortion myself, but I think it should be legal because making it illegal would only make the situation worse.’ (Worse? How much worse can it be?) When I said ‘A Catholic can never support that position. In fact a human being can never support that position, because it’s a question of the natural law, not just of the 5th commandment’, my sister – a ‘Eucharistic Minister’ and pillar of her parish – called me an ‘extremist’. I think if these people, educated in ‘good’ Catholic schools, and in full cosy communion with all the greats and goods of the Church, can say things like this, the game is almost up.
    Just for the record, no Catholic can even hold these positions, let alone commit the abomination of uttering them. It is not an option. If we are considered extremists, it’s only because the world has descended so far into complete madness. The goalposts haven’t just been moved; they’ve been swapped around. Yesterday’s insanity is today’s orthodoxy. Let’s stand up to these people and tell them clearly: ‘Sorry, if you hold that, you are not a Catholic’.

  • Lazarus

    ‘As can be inferred from Pope Benedict’s comment it is now only a few Catholic theologians who still accept the theory of natural law. ‘

    1) Extraordinarily difficult to infer that from what the Pope says.
    2) Natural law, as the reflection of reason on human nature, is certainly endorsed by leading Catholic theologians and philosophers (Eg: Finnis, George, Grisez).  
    3) Moreover, to the extent that the idea that God is mediated by nature and reason to man (the central theme of (eg) the Pope’s Regensburg address) is central to Catholic theology, it’s hard to see how any orthodox theologians could reject the substance of natural law, even if they might hesitate to use that term.
    4) Many Catholics (and perhaps among them Francis Phillips) might (rightly I think) suspect that moral relativism springs up where the seeds of divine command theories and the abandonment of natural law have been planted.

  • Anonymous

    I would agree that you will not find any Catholic theologian who explicitly rejects natural law; that is because they would lose their jobs if they did. However I would guess that the number who use natural law arguments confidently in their work is relatively few. 

    I would also agree that when people reject arguments based on natural law that it often follows that they become moral relativists. Many Catholics who rejected the natural law arguments against contraception then began to question the moral teachings of the Church in other areas, and this has led to an unfortunate slide into relativism. 

    Other faiths such as Orthodox Judaism, and Islam, and many Protestant denominations, do not use arguments from natural law to support their moral teaching, and it could certainly be argued that they have not suffered the decline into relativism, within their faithful, that has occurred in the Catholic Church over the last forty years.  Perhaps if the Church had had more solid foundations upon which to base its teaching this would not have happened.

    The idea of natural law is no longer accepted by philosophers, ethicists and religious leaders unless they are under the control of the Catholic Church. Since natural law is supposed to be discoverable purely by reason, without any reference at all to revelation or authority, this seems to me to present a problem.

  • Lazarus

    ‘The idea of natural law is no longer accepted by philosophers…’ etc.
    You need to distinguish here between a) natural law as the developed body of reasoning on Thomistic lines developed in particular by neo-Scholastics; b) general, rational reflection on human nature as a basis for ethics. You may have some point about a), although even here, there is a lively revival of this line of thought particularly in America. (Have a look at Ed Feser’s site for examples of this.) As for b), you are simply wrong. Quite apart from the new (Kantian influenced) version of natural law found in (eg) Finnis -which you’d doubtless dismiss as being promulgated by orthodox Catholics (though why faithfulness should be seen as excluding someone from philosophical reasoning is beyond me)- there is the (entirely secular) virtue ethics which rests on similar Aristotelian grounds.

    As to why philosophers who are uninformed by the guidance of the Church get their reasoning wrong, there is no more mystery here than i) why two atheist philosophers disagree on ethics whilst both claiming the exercise of rationality; and ii) why theologians claiming the support of revelation come to a variety of conclusions. Without the living Magisterium of the Church, there is no certainty in either reasoning or revelation. That is the only solid foundation for anyone, but it is an authority which has to be exercised on the basis of natural law reasoning rather than on vaporous imaginings or sola scriptura (which probably amount to the same thing).

  • LocutusOP

    It can’t get worse – to answer your question.

    I agree….You’re not a Christian and you’re not Catholic is the only response to such evil notions.

  • Veitchandrea

    I notice that people who say things like ‘of course I wouldn’t do it, however I can understand someone would….’ always say it about situations where someone else is the victim, someone unknown to them. If they were to be the victim themselves, I would be very surprised if they were to utter the same sentence: ‘of course I wouldn’t have an affair, but I can understand why my husband/wife would’ for example.
    I always remember seeing a pro-choice campaigner on a march who was about six months pregnant. On her bear stomach she had written ‘my baby would be pro-choice’. Really? If your personal situation would not suite a baby it would be quite happy to take it’s life? He/she can make a moral choice, but not wish to live?

  • Anonymous

    My bad, a childhood remembrance but can find no evidence for it. Actually, double bad, because although I’ve investigated most of the rubbish from my religious raising and found them to be as expected, I suspect I haven’t revisited this one because it fit with the money making policies I can see.

    So I’ll swap that one for, gosh so much choice, oh, I know, supporting war against those from a different cult.

    I notice you had nothing to say about the substance!

  • Sweetjae

    I totally agree with you, murder is murder and no amount of cosmetic would lessen the crime. The problem with the world today, if you defend Life in all forms and stages you are considered an extremist, how about them making judgment if one can live or not? God warned us about these days where good is considered bad and bad considered good. Long live Pope Benedict and the Church the only voice of Truth!

  • Anonymous

    If natural law arguments were valid they would not require the gift of faith, or the acceptance of the authority of the Church in order to believe them. 

    While the Magisterium of the Church has successfully passed on the faith over the centuries, it has not been a particularly good place to go for moral guidance over the years. Those who insist that we switch off our brains and follow the official moral teaching of the Church even when it is based on nonsense, hope that we ignore its very patchy record.

    Did the Magisterium listen to Holy Spirit in putting the Church at the forefront of the campaign against slavery? No, for centuries priests and bishops kept slaves, and as late as the American civil war the Pope took the side of the slave owners. 

    When the Magisterium used to teach that the torture and execution of heretics were moral acts where was the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Where was the Holy Spirit when the Magisterium gravely erred over Galileo? When the Magisterium said it was a grave sin to read the works of many philosophers and thinkers, and condemned those who argued in favour of religious liberty or democracy, was this teaching correct?

  • Anonymous

    Murder is murder. But some murders are worse than others. Thats only was a reasonable relitivist would tell you.

    There are different strands of relitivistism, and if only Catholics writers (and the Pope) read the Wikipedia page before writing we wouldn’t have this issue! I’m sure many have but I guess its a nice pseudo-issue to harp on about anyway.

    A moderate relitivist position would be to say that, for example – a child beaten and abused by his father – who then murdered his father by pushing him down the stairs, would not be as bad as say a wife that killed in cold blood to try and yet her husband’s money.

    No redefining of terms has occured. Murder is still refered to as murder. But common sense has been applied – and in terms of punishment we would be much more leniant with the child than the wife.

    Surely you would agree there’s nothing morally dangerous about my point of view!

  • Anonymous

    Abortion is very complex. There are many rights and wrongs, many better and worses. Defining the beginning of ‘life’ (not to be confused with being alive) is extremely difficult and open to debate.

    It is almost the most complex of any moral issue for Christians and non-Christians to tackle. Hense the fact we have pro-abortion Christians, and anti-abortion non-Christians and atheists.

    If you decide to reply to what I have written if you start with the words ‘actually it is very simple’ or equivalent – it will show you to be awefully naive and ill-informed on the subject I’m afraid.

  • Charles Martel

    “paulsays”, If human life begins at conception, as biology shows us quite clearly, then the intentional termination of that innocent and defenceless human life is an abominable crime. The beginning of life, or ‘life’, as you prefer to call it, is not open to debate. This is one of the least complex issues for Christians and non-Christians. Like all liberals, you try to spin us that intellectually superior and patronising line about how naive and ill-informed we are, but the Catholic Church is crystal clear on this:
    “Human life must be respected and absolutely protected from the first
    moment of conception. The rights of the human person (especially the
    right to live) must be recognized from the first moment of existence.
    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I
    consecrated you” (Jer 1:5).

    “From the first century, the Church has taught the unchangeable truth
    that every procured abortion is evil. Direct abortion (willed as an end
    or a means) is gravely contrary to the moral law. “You shall not kill
    the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish”
    (Didache). “Life must be protected with utmost care from the first
    moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes”
    (Second Vatican Council).

    You cannot be a Catholic or a Christian if you hold that abortion is in any way justified. Is that clear enough for you, “paulsays”?

  • Lazarus

    1) It isn’t Catholic teaching that everything done and said by every Catholic -even bishops, even popes-  at every time is right. So pointing out particular past moral failings is irrelevant. What you need to do is to identify some systematic flaw in Catholic teaching and suggest an alternative system which is better. From what you’ve said previously, your alternative is based on revelation which is (apparently) self interpreting. How’s that method working out in helping mainstream Protestantism give a clear moral lead these days? 

    2) I can’t think of a better place to go than the Church for moral guidance over the years. (Which place would you go to?) The methodology of natural law teaching is a much better basis for discerning morality than the shifting sand of whatever Protestant theology or secularized philosophy happens to be in fashion at the time. And on top of that you’ve got the divinely appointed Magisterium to help you out. What’s not to like?

    3) ‘If natural law arguments were valid they would not require the gift of faith…’ Well, they don’t. Natural law arguments are believed and challenged on rational grounds. But just as atheist philosophers can’t reach an agreement on moral issues on reason alone, arguments based on natural law need completion by divine wisdom through the living Magisterium of the Church to achieve certainty. Unaided reason can do a lot, but it can’t do everything. However, the exercise of authority has to be a completion of reason rather than something opposed ab extra which is contrary to reason.

  • Anonymous

    It is not so clear as you try to make it.

    Spontaneous abortions are more frequent than live births, if your god is responsible for this it must be done with intent and therefore he is performing an abominable act and according to you he can neither be catholic or christian. 

    The beginning of life is very much in doubt. If you take a skin cell of a sheep, you can initiate embryo development. It won’t be long before the same technology is available for humans. So conception does not become the initiation of life. People in these pages have told me that they will accept the final result as human, but it begs the question of when that life started. 

    But don’t worry, your moral relativism will accommodate these changes, it will just take you longer than the rest of us.

  • Charles Martel

    ‘My bad’….? Could you write in English, please, Acleron? Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, was that too modern for you?

  • Anonymous

    Sorry but that’s not relativism – that’s diminution of subjective culpability/responsibility and mitigating circumstances.

    That in no way reduces the objective moral repugnance of murder nor its objective intrinsic moral disorder.

    Relativism has nothing to do with the subjective guilt or responsibility – it’s an attempt to deny, reduce, dismiss or repudiate the objective moral disorder.

    If you wish to justify relativism could you please at least try a valid example?

  • Anonymous

    a] Simply not true – there are 3.1:1 potential full term births to implantation failures & natural miscarriages – your claim that there are more of the latter is erroneous.

    b] Your inference that these are the destruction of healthy embryos and not potentially resultant of genetic or underlying endocrinlogical/gynaecological/medical conditions is specious, unscientific and superstitiously obtuse; and to bring in theodicial asides is laughably ludicrous.

    c] conception is the absolute actuation of a new living entity – in humans it is the creation of a completely new life with a unique genetic code and nucleic potential – do you require all the embryological citations?

  • Anonymous

    Your figure of 3.1:1 is suspiciously close to this study which is using hormonal changes to detect pregnancy. It doesn’t include non implantation or failure after conception to develop. So your figure is a minimum, and you should see that the true rate can quite easily exceed 50%.

    I didn’t infer anything, you claim that conception is an important point, you claim that your god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Illogical, I agree, but what we are discussing is what you say, not my thoughts. It necessarily follows that your god is responsible and intends to abort these cells after conception. You claimed that this an abomination and neither christian nor catholic. So are you saying that your god is not omnipotent and omniscient?

    Clones do not have a unique genetic code and quite when that entered the teachings of your church as a criterion of humanity will be interesting to know. So are you claiming that cloned humans will not be accepted by the catholic church? Others have told me that they will accept them, but it still begs the question about the importance of the point of conception.

    And by the way, you introduced the theological argument by claiming some superiority in your morals about abortion by virtue of the fact that you belong to a church. I’m just showing you that it isn’t quite as easy as you make out, unless you throw away your cognitive faculties.

  • Anonymous

    The rate is as stated.
    Clones have unique identity – the genetic code is a mere protein blueprint – are identical twins the same person? I think not…

    I made no such claim of moral superiority by belonging to the Church…BUT

    As a former embryo, the child of former embryos, a descendent of former embryos, a sibling of former embryos , a father of former embryos and from a community of former embryos – I oppose abortion by its very nature – and the systemic genocide of over 1.6 BILLION over the past forty years is the greatest ever crime against humanity…

  • Anonymous

    I apologise about the jibe of moral superiority, I was reading into your text something that wasn’t explicitly stated.

    Of course clones are unique, they will have different experiences. 
    Experience and the ability to make decisions based on those experiences are what makes a human, not any trivial penetration of an ovum with a sperm. But again, it was you who mentioned uniqueness of the genome ”
    in humans it is the creation of a completely new life with a unique genetic code and nucleic potential”.And finally we have the total difference between us. I consider, as a human being, that all are equal and should be given as full control of our own lives as possible with no interference from any authority except with our permission. The fate of the yet unborn is of little consequence compared to the fate of those who are living, thinking beings who have developed aspirations, ideas and relationships with others.

  • Anonymous

    Of course it reduces its repugnance.
    Repugnance – Intense disgust. (definition)

    We are much less disgusted over the child’s actions than of the wife’s actions. Murder – the action committed has become LESS BAD.

    I can’t see how it can be thought of in a different way really.

  • Anonymous

    There are many more deaths of conceptions than abortions. Many many millions each year. Billions over the course of human history. 

    If you define abortion as the death of a fertilised egg (as the Church frequently does) then God – through his design of the human female is responsible for more abortions than humans would ever be capable.

    This either proves abortion is OK according to God, or that God is very very evil. If you believe abortion is akin to murder – then God is tens of thousands of times worse than Hitler.

    I’m not saying God is evil, or that he sanctions abortion. But how do you answer this question?   

  • Charles Martel

    English, please.

  • theroadmaster

    People have been emotionally browbeaten into silence by the guardians of the liberal, non-judgmental consensus regarding morals and behavior in wider society.  This has blurred the hard edges that formed the demarcation lines between good and evil as properly understood by preceding generations, as part of the Natural Law and Biblical Revelation.  This has unfortunately eroded the underpinning knowledge and appreciation of  vast members of societies across the contemporary Western World regarding  objective moral concepts and laws.  It is only through a process of re-education and giving witness to gospel values, can we hope to loosen the stranglehold of a relativistic, liberal mindset which is ruining the moral fibre of society.

  • Anonymous

    Surely some mistake? People are more vocal than ever. And you will be pleased to know that enough of society recognise that what you mean by good and evil is what you want and do not want, what a moslem means by good and evil is what they want and do not want etc. Labelling something by using scary words doesn’t have any traction. 
    We have progressed over the last 200 years by a process of liberalisation away from the vested interests of religion and the wealthy. This has led to a society far more equal and better educated than anything we have previously seen in this country. The process has yet to complete but the benefits in people becoming more responsible for their own actions in their occupations and social lives are quite clear. To return to the mindset that a religion with all its immoral baggage can ever take over again is abhorrent and fortunately is unlikely to occur. Until your religion has changed its ever flexible list of rules (morals to you) it will remain just another tyrannical, authoritarian and paternalistic movement. To claim that you have anything to show us in the way of a superior society would be quite ridiculous if it wasn’t for the quite Orwellian use of the word re-education. Fortunately, the tipping point has passed, enough of society are quite able to think for ourselves and will not accept a return to the dark ages.