The right to be right

Deciding on our human rights often turns out to be a controversial matter. But how often do we consider their source? Some would argue that it lies in the will of the people to decide. Others would claim that the source is utilitarian – thus they are rules which must be observed if society is to be settled and peaceful. But if we look at the UN Declaration of Human Rights we find another reason.

In the Preamble appears “Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women…” And the first article reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The implication here is that human rights are derived from human nature, and exercised through the characteristics of our reason and free moral choice. In other words the Declaration is a Natural Law statement. How strange that such a group of nations, representing a miscellany of all religions and none, should explicitly share this view of the dignity of man and accept the imperatives which can be derived therefrom! But that was in 1948. I wonder whether the same would happen now.

I ask because I run a philosophy group. It consists of older people from different professions. One or two practise religion but most of them would describe themselves as agnostic. When I discussed the Declaration with them, they opted first for the “will of the people” cause. But they dropped that when I pointed out some lawfully elected regimes which had behaved disgracefully during the 20th century. They then settled on the utilitarian reason. At no point, despite my questions, did they accept that human dignity might be a possible answer.

I think I can understand why – they are a wily lot. Apportioning inherent dignity to people raises some awkward questions if you want to leave God out of things. The secular belief that we are no more than an outcome of evolved matter is simply inconsistent with dignity: the material on its own has no inherent worth.

It seems clear to me that reason – which transcends the material – and free will – which is incompatible with a universe whose outcomes are determined only by cause and effect – are the essence of human beings, and the only basis which can support human rights.

Am I barmy to think this? And, if not, what questions should I have put to the group, or what points should I have made to them if I wanted to change their minds?

________________________________________________________
Quentin says: I have some reasonably good news about our fellow contributor, St Joseph. She has been undergoing a lengthy course of chemotherapy, and more to come. She is hoping that her eventual scan will show that her tumour is reduced. She describes herself as “I feel good – no pain just very washed out at times.” She is very grateful for our prayers, and thinks of us all.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to The right to be right

  1. Nektarios says:

    First, our love and prayers continue for St. Joseph, and we hope she will make a full recovery.

    Inalienable rights are not given by the Church or the State – if they were given, they can be taken away. Inalienable rights are God given and not transferable.

    I see Quentin you have been taken in by the Reason argument – which is not the same argument as `rational’. In fact, the argument of Reason being supreme has lost ground over the centuries. Reason could find no solution to the problem of the uniqueness of man nor of the Cosmos.
    No matter, they found answers in the irrational, the meaningless in life and the Cosmos.
    This was arrived at by way of existentialism, existential theology,philosophy and existential methodology.
    Today this cancer of existential thought, theology,philosophy and existential methodology says
    for example life is meaningless, the Cosmos is meaningless, the Word of God is no longer
    inerrant, but contains errors in matters of History, Morals and of the Cosmos. We see the this meaninglessness played out in Science, Technology,in morals, in art, in music, in education, in literature, in religion, in politics in business, in medicine(cf.abortion, mercy killing) &c. all decending into meaninglessness.THIS INCLUDES OUR INALIENABLE HUMAN RIGHTS.

    The tragic aspect to all this is this Existentialism is taught in our schools, colleges and universties.
    But Existentialism is nearing its conclusion.
    As Christians, we need to return to seeing the the Word of God as infallible in matters that is affirms in History, in Morals, the Uniqueness of man and of the Cosmos.In the personal nature of God who gives us our inalienable rights.
    If we don’t, then I say with tears, that we will be robbing this generation and our children and grandchildren giving them nothing to stand against the troubles that are ahead.

    • milliganp says:

      Apart from finding your argument difficult to understand (imho illogical), it is a fact that human reason existed long before the specific revelation of scripture and that natural law does not derive from scripture but from human nature.

      • RAHNER says:

        What “argument”????

      • milliganp says:

        Rahner, you seem to think that the only meaning of the word argument is a disagreement. Another is “In logic and philosophy, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion as evident”, that is the sense in which I use the word. Nektarios seems to posit that “reason” is a product of existentialism, whereas natural law posits that even a member of a South American jungle tribe that has never experienced western philosophical culture can use personal reason to deduce the natural law.

    • overload says:

      My father as a child had faith; as a teenager he became disillusioned with the Church and God, apparently turning the dialectics of St Paul to philosophy and atheism. Whether or not he is an atheist now I could not say, as he is well aware of the transformation in his son from atheism to faith, and in some confused ways shows sympathy and support for this. None the less he still holds within himself a nihilist perspective, where religion is a lie for control and the denying of desire/pleasure (he has referred to pleasure in relation to feminist self empowerment). Yet he also despairs at the corrupt state of the world and despises social/political immorality, etc.

      Speaking with him recently, I asked what does “free will” mean to him. He said he does not know what this means in reality:
      Free will is a “bastardised” concept which America is build upon, where the nation is “free”, and every individual is “free” to make of their lives as they will (thus the poor are responsible for their own poverty).
      He sees that according to Christianity, God created man with freewill — created with a “buggery clause” (the forbidden fruit), thus not creating man perfect. He suggests that, hypothetically, from a “system-building” (Hegelian Dialectics) point of view, this would be an ingenious method for God to “test” his creation to see whether they would recognise/choose him.
      But what about predestination? One who is not free to choose God is then confined to nihilism and the pursuit of pleasure, because what does it matter if he is already damned?

      • Quentin says:

        Predestination is not an issue. We are inclined to use the term because we can only live in the present moment – the past is gone, the future yet to come. God is outside time — so past, present and future are all eternally present to him. The fact that he can see me pinching your wallet no more predestines me to pinch your wallet than you actually seeing me pinch it does.

      • milliganp says:

        The Protestant concept of predestination has nothing to do with the omniscience of God. Omniscience allows that God knows our future actions because God exits outside time. Predestination is a doctrine that we are saved or damned irrespective of our actions by God’s sovereign choice.

  2. Iona says:

    Quentin, you say that:

    At no point, despite my questions, did they accept that human dignity might be a possible answer.

    I think I can understand why – they are a wily lot. Apportioning inherent dignity to people raises some awkward questions if you want to leave God out of things. The secular belief that we are no more than an outcome of evolved matter is simply inconsistent with dignity: the material on its own has no inherent worth.

    There is at least one group of people (which wants to “leave God out of things”) that is more than willing to use the term “dignity”, namely the “dying with dignity” people. I feel they have hijacked the term, or are trying to. They are equating dignity with appearing dignified.

    • tim says:

      I have some sympathy for Quentin’s group’s views (though more for Quentin’s). I think that members of the group will accept those propositions of the Declaration of Human Rights that they find sympathetic (according to their own interpretation of them), but not feel bound by others (in particular, by the Preamble and Article 1). Many of us will feel the same. The contention that they are necessary for us to live in peace and harmony seems speculative. One can imagine the contrary being forcefully argued – with regard to specific articles, at least. So what (if any) authority does the Declaration have, and where does this come from? Quentin, maybe your group would have further ideas about this?

      Very good news about St Joseph – prayer is powerful and modern medicine is constantly improving!

  3. Iona says:

    Delighted to hear about St. Joseph. (I put her on our prayer list in church. Under her real name, of course!)

  4. overload says:

    I read recently a leading article in the Guardian review by Ian McEwan who is friends with some high court judges. He told about a court case which involved a Catholic woman pregnant with twins; she was told by doctors that one child had a terminal problem; without medical intervention both children would die. Archbishop Vincent (I think it was) reinforced that she should not intervene, and this was her decision. Court ruling was that she should be operated on; the ill child was aborted, healthy child survived.
    Another case he mentioned was a Jehovah’s witness boy, under 18, who was refusing a required blood transfusion. The Judge decided to visit him in person, discussed football, then made the ruling that the transfusion was to be given. The boy survived, the judge then took him to a football match and he excitedly met some of the players. Then a few years later the same boy (now adult) required another blood transfusion, refused, and died.

    Regarding the woman who tried to refuse an abortion. In one sense I ask whether her refusal to be operated on was, ironically, contrary to the thrust of the “right to life”? On the other hand I respect her decision; made with true living faith I believe this is an incredible decision to make. Yet was it made with deep faith, or was it made robotically because it was the prescribed only option for her? Does the Catholic Church give her the right to make the other decision (the decision with, in this case, God made for her)? Does she, with faith, have “the right to be right” either way?

    • milliganp says:

      My daughter gave birth to twin boys 4 years ago. One of the twins was badly deformed and died within minutes of birth, the other had to spend considerable time in intensive neo-natal care because he was born very prematurely because of the other twins defects. Throughout the pregnancy the medical team treating my daughter tried to convince her to have a “selective termination” or just give up and try again. Our four year old grandson is unique (as are all chidren) and a great joy; he is fully aware he has a brother “in the sky”.

    • tim says:

      Overload, your account raises several questions. Basically it is not credible.

      I do not believe that a UK court has compelled (or could compel) a woman to have an abortion against her will (China Yes, USA possibly, UK No). How did the case get to Court? Unborn children don’t count as people, so (I suppose) there is no question of a guardian ad litem being appointed. A husband or male partner is not usually allowed to have a view about these matters.

      I’m also dubious about the medical advice. There are too many people around with healthy children who were urged to abort them after contact with German measles, to be confident that such diagnoses are infallible. No corroborative detail about the nature of the disease is given. It seems to me much more likely that this is not an actual case but purely hypothetical – ”trolleyology’ – where you are given an improbable situation and invited to get out of it by murdering someone. Maybe I’m wrong – I’d be convinced by a reference to the legal case report.

      You find it ironic that the her refusal to be operated on may have been ‘contrary to the thrust of the “right to life”’. To me it seem much more ironic that (if the report is true) she was deprived of ‘the woman’s right to choose’ (which, we are usually assured, has absolute priority in these cases). For me the moral is, don’t believe everything you read in the ‘Guardian’, even when written by a distinguished novelist.

      • overload says:

        I cannot verify McEwan’s article, and I do not have it to hand, I am speaking from memory. The impression was that this was a very unique case. In reference to the “infallible” medical diagnosis, I appreciate your point in the Synod discussion, about Sarah.
        “Murder”?
        Yes, perhaps more ironic she was deprived of “‘the woman’s right to choose’”; however, whether hypothetical or not, I still dispute with a black or white designation of “right to life” in this case.

  5. Vincent says:

    I sympathise with Quentin over the reactions of his group. But I am prepared to bet that his members instinctively treat rights as principles which go beyond their practical use. They are just unhappy to articulate this. It’s much the same when secularists claim that there is no such thing as moral obligation. But insist that they are moral just the same!

    Possible clashes are interesting. Article 2 says that there must be no discrimination on the grounds of religion, but Article 18 says that everyone is free ” to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” How does this fit the registrar who lost her job because she would not register a gay couple, or the landlords who were fined for refusing accommodation to a gay couple?

    And does Article 3 (right to life) cover humans in the womb or not? There has been much talk recently of the woman’s right to abortion.

    • tim says:

      I’m afraid it doesn’t cover humans in the womb – because otherwise abortion would not be allowed, and that wouldn’t wash in today’s world.

      • Quentin says:

        This reads like a non sequitur to me. While there is a sub committee which is inclined towards accepting abortion as an element of reproductive rights, the Declaration is clear. It is referring to “All human beings” (article 1.) But a foetus is human, it is a being, and it is an individual with a continuing identity. Its genetic blueprint is different from its mother’s, and were it not for a special mechanism it would be expelled automatically by the maternal immune system. What other ethically relevant reason to exclude its rights is there?

    • milliganp says:

      You need to be careful in how you apply the trnsion between articles 2 and 3, my right to practice religion does not include the right to stone adulterers. the landlords prosecuted for discrimination had the right to choose a different business, you wouldn’t refuse a gay couple at a restaurant or in a bar and would they have refused a double bed to an unmarried heterosexual couple? The registrar was reinstated following an appeal so the right to religious freedom was upheld in her case.

      • Singalong says:

        The landlords who refused to accept a gay couple had every right to do so in their own home, and very probably would have also refused an unmarried couple as was often done in non domestic hotels also as late as the 1950`s if this was obvious. There are plenty of other guest houses for gay and unmarried couples to use, it was almost certainly a deliberate set up anyway, and the landlords could have several reasons for choosing this business, and little other choice. I think this should apply on both secular and religious grounds under one’s own roof. Isn’t an Englishman’s home his castle?

      • Vincent says:

        I think you are wrong about the registrar — unless you have anything later than the refusal given by the High Court to the Christian Institute to have the matter further referred.to the Supreme Court. December 2009.

      • milliganp says:

        Vincent, I was following the more recent case of Margaret Jones, who has been reinstated.
        Singalong, as soon as someone turns their home into a business premises they loose the right to privacy and personal choice; they have to abide by a host of laws on safety, fire regulation, disability discrimination etc.
        If a leading hotel chain had “No gays-even if you’re married” signs on its website and at its reception desks a public outcry would be expected. The pricipal is that the same law applies everywhere.

      • Singalong says:

        This does seem to be the legal situation in the UK now, but it is a violation of the human right to be master in one’s own home, which the involvement of business, money, should not over ride. Other things in our country are legal but unethical, and violate human rights,notably abortion.

  6. Nektarios says:

    Before we get locked into the various ethical problems that exists, we need to take a look at what
    lies behind the present state in world in its worldview. I enclose a link which bears on what I posted earlier. I trust you will all find it helpful.
    http://www..com/watch?v=9L_YuDSSL8A (insert the word youtube between the two stops)

  7. Nektarios says:

    Sorry Quentin for the pic being added above.
    I hope this further short talk by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer on abortion and associated matters,
    will also give us a wide view of not only abortion, but also where in society this is all leading.
    http://www..com/watch?v=EwYv-GixdLU (inser the word youtube between the two stops)

  8. Nektarios says:

    It is important to watch this on Abortion etc above. I cannot seem to just give the link with this without the ready to play mode present.

    • Quentin says:

      All you have to do, if you can’t find a neater way, is to alter the link. Thus: http://www..com/watch?v=EwYv-GixdLU, but insert the word youtube between the two full stops.

      • Vincent says:

        My question did not address the morality of abortion or where its use may lead to but whether or not the human being in the womb is protected by the Declaration. My second question was whether there is a potential clash between the right to practise one’s own religion and the equality laws which are supposed to protect against discrimination.

      • Quentin says:

        Nektarios — No, you have to omit some element which prevents your browser from finding the address. Look at the examples I gave you (above). But as my example enables your link to be used, you don’t need to do anything further.

        There are of course some occasions when a link to outside material is useful, but I suspect not many people follow them up. On the whole people are interested in what you have to say, and the reasons you give for it.

    • overload says:

      Nektarios, I am assuming you were responding to my post as well as Victor’s by posting this abortion video. There is no question in me that abortion is (unless the baby is already dead) the taking of human life.

      “Thou shalt not kill”. We receive this through the law of Christ, reinforced by the words given in the Jewish law. Yet how do we really understand/practice this in reality, and is this law absolute and inalienable?

      It is suggested in the story of Genesis that the garden of Eden was entirely without killing; Adam and Eve eating fruits and leaves only. (As a side query: I wonder about the animals; whether they killed one another, and whether they were subject to death? And if man was not subject to death but was commanded to “be fruitful and multiply”, then how did God envisage this apparently limitless expansion?)

      • Nektarios says:

        Overload
        One thing firstly, modern man, unlike our forebears do not in general hold to `Absolutes’,
        everything is thought about in relative terms only. It does not matter if people are Hindus or Bhuddists or Christians or Muslims.
        God’s Word, in which we have His Absolutes given to us in a propositional way.
        Commit this to memory or write it down –

        If there are no Absolutes in society, then society is absolute – Francis Shaeffer.

        One can see the dangers of that in every walk of life today.One is of course, Abortion – but it will not stop there. Terrible days are ahead when society seeing itself as Absolute
        will make arbitary Laws. By such Laws they can do away with not only the many millions of would be babies, but the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill, there is no end to it.

        Inalienable rights are God given rights. they are not transferable to others in society,
        no matter if they be Church or Government or other bodies who think they can bestow such inalienable on others.

      • milliganp says:

        For grief’s sake, Overlord, it’s a myth -it never happened and Lions and Lambs will only lie down together when Lion’s don’t need lunch. There are two creation myths in Genesis, the “be fruitful and multiply” is in a different myth to the “forbidden fruit” myth. In the forbidden fruit myth the serpent gives Adam and Eve a sex lesson and they copulate creating life independent of God – which is the real “sin”; having discovered sex they discover nakedness.

    • overload says:

      Mosaic law (which Christians are not directly — or not at all — bound by), as I understand it, translates “thou shalt not kill” as “thou shalt not murder fellow man”. It does not forbid killing fellow man. What defines unlawful killing (ie. murder in its broader sense)? And what about murdering an animal?
      And getting things in Christ’s perspective: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” — murder (and presumably with this killing/ the taking of life) is not delimited to the physical realm.

      Im not aware that Christ forbids killing fellow man, however he certainly proposes pacifism by his life and crucifixion, and by the life of the early Church after Pentecost (note: before pentecost — ie. awaiting the inner security of the Holy Spirit — Jesus told his disciples to carry a sword).
      None the less, with the cross, Christ reaches out to vulnerable/fallible man in all his weakness. So it seems the young man in the trenches of WW1 who kills — and is killed — in battle is not necessarily restricted by this circumstance in respect of his salvation and perfection in Christ.

      I don’t believe that the just war theory is Christ like, however this does not make it illegal.

      So as to lawful/unlawful killing it seems there is an aggregation of: what/who we kill, why we kill, and how we kill.
      And then beyond this, in conformity to the law of the cross, there is the strength of our faith to love God in the midst of this action of taking life (note: inaction could conceivably translate as killing) — this might be considered as an inward repentance which is outwardly untenable?
      The killing action itself might be an aggregation of circumstance, impulse and compulsion — which might be dictated by forces/powers beyond our control, ie. satanic (accusatory) or demonic possession and/or oppression.

  9. Ignatius says:

    “I think I can understand why – they are a wily lot. Apportioning inherent dignity to people raises some awkward questions if you want to leave God out of things. The secular belief that we are no more than an outcome of evolved matter is simply inconsistent with dignity: the material on its own has no inherent worth..”

    No I don’t think so. The belief that human beings are capable of great dignity chimes quite well without a religious world view because evolutionary thought also takes into account moral and social progress (social Darwinism) This means that to socially engineer and legislate the promulgation of dignity makes a lot of sense regardless of underlying belief. Why should man not strive to be great for his own sake?

    • Vincent says:

      You write of ‘engineering’ dignity. That is, I assume, to impose it by choice. It is different from ‘recognising’ dignity which means that it is there, independent of judgment. The difference is crucial because a society which engineers can choose. Thus it can choose that people with snotty noses can be exterminated (substitute any other antisocial characteristic you wish).
      I think that most people do recognise dignity as inherent, but this recognition is de facto. They are not ordinarily challenged to demonstrate its source.

  10. milliganp says:

    Abortion is a red herring in relation to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, at the time it was written the vast majority held to the view that abortion was always wrong, even in the case of conception resulting from rape. We shouldn’t allow a 2014 gloss on a set of 1948 principals to confuse the original ideal. What we are discussing is the loss of the underlying ethical and moral principals.

    • Vincent says:

      But I think this is a practical example of how principles supposedly based on man’s inherent nature can be changed in practice through society’s choice.

  11. Ignatius says:

    “I think that most people do recognise dignity as inherent, but this recognition is de facto. They are not ordinarily challenged to demonstrate its source…”
    Its very important to recognise this innate sense of dignity as existing in all, religious or otherwise. In my job I have the good fortune to speak with many people about all sorts of things and to spend time training groups of individuals who have set their sights on change and achievement. I would say very few people I talk with are in any way formally religious yet most have a sense of the human spirit and of the importance of something they might call “humanity” I mostly unreservedly admire these people and see in them something profoundly beautiful. It is an error based in abstraction to miss the fact that ordinary people, unbelievers at that, cannot see the wonder of God in one another and strive after it just as well as believers…they just haven’t recognised what they are seeing.

    • overload says:

      “It is an error based in abstraction to miss the fact that ordinary people, unbelievers at that, cannot see the wonder of God in one another and strive after it just as well as believers…they just haven’t recognised what they are seeing.”
      Yes both bible and catechism say this.
      But unbelievers might be confused, regarding something like abortion; due to ignorance, misunderstanding, presumption, ill conditioning, fear, etc. — as also to a lesser extent might a Catholic at the other extreme?

      Ignatius, perhaps you can help me with a long-term subtle spinal deformity? My back/spine has been in slightly acute pain for last fews days, not sure why… I think it might be cancer though.

    • overload says:

      Before embracing Christ and the Church, I had a strong natural moral sense (although not full nor well balanced in many ways). However, regarding abortion it seems I was conditioned to believe that a foetus is not a living human and belonged to (or is a part of) the mother until birth. It did not occur to question this. My impression of “right to life” was one fanatical fundamentalism, and I think more influenced by American Protestants rather than Catholics.
      I no longer think like this, however I now think the consideration of the child’s integration with the mother a complex one regarding the mind/body and conscience of the mother.

  12. overload says:

    milliganp said: “What we are discussing is the loss of the underlying ethical and moral principals.”
    I wonder what were the driving sociological (or other) motivations for initially pushing through the abortion law in the US? This was not stated in the video, other than to say that it was sociologically accepted when proposed to Britain.

    I don’t argue for the legitimacy of the abortion law. However it exists as a reality, and so I expect we find Catholics, Christians and non-Christians seeking abortions for, presumably, a whole range of reasons, often difficult to untangle or discern, from black to lighter-grey. I understand there is a problem regarding Catholic woman who seek abortion will be ostracised by the Catholic Church (and in a country like Ireland, ostracised by society as well, sometimes driven to England). Furthermore how can a Catholic easily communicate to a non-Christian the heart of their belief in respect of abortion being wrong — this is undermined by the fact that all abortion is given the massive stamp “MURDER”, which seems to reinforce polarisation and a climate of fear.

    • Nektarios says:

      The Law for Abortion was brought in the USA, not in the usual way, but as an `arbitary law.
      However it was flawed because anyone who wanted an abortion, the foetus was seen as a non-person therefore did not have any rights at all provided by the State.
      But if IVF resulted in a pregancy then the resultant baby in the womb would have all the rights of a person afforded to it by the State.

    • milliganp says:

      As I understand it, what happened in the USA was that laws against abortion were declared, by the Supreme Court, to be inconsistent with the right to privacy guaranteed in the 14th amendment to the US constitution. Thus the only way abortion can be made illegal is either by getting the Supreme Court to reverse its decision or to make a constitutional amendment protecting the unborn. Successive appointments have been made to the Supreme Court with the specific aim of creating (or preventing the creation of) a bench that would reverse Roe vs Wade.

    • tim says:

      Overload, I very much hope you are wrong about ‘the problem’, though I can understand why you think this. My wife is allowed to give occasional talks at Mass about Life matters (4 mins max) and always finds it necessary to make clear that women who have had abortions are not to be thoughtlessly condemned – they are victims, as well as their babies. I take your point about ‘polarisation’, but I think it’s inevitable. Tact has its place, but so has plain speaking. Not all murders are equally heinous.

      • overload says:

        I’m trying to ask — as in my previous comment (September 29, 2014 at 10:49 am) — is it not incorrect to predefine abortion as murder (ie. hating the baby)?
        In other words would it rather be correct to say that abortion is the taking of human life, it is killing, and in doing so there is strong possibility of — or tendency towards — murder?
        The difference between saying it “is murder” if in fact it “could likely be murder”, is the difference between correct or incorrect teaching on “matters of faith and morals”.

  13. overload says:

    Following on from Nektarios, I think this is important.

    milli, you said Genesis is a myth. ?
    Yours is an interesting proposition, that the original sin was “creating life independent of God”. Perhaps this is just your projected interpretation though?

    I am not really inclined to doubt the truth of the evolution of life according to the scientifically known universe (although I do not rule out presumptuous scientific error and/or conspiracy — yet if this does exist, I suspect more likely confined to certain details).

    It has been said: “Truth is to be found at the place that three roads meet: the road of paradox, the road of ambiguity and the road of contradiction.”

    We must consider this reading from the rock and ‘keeper’ of the keys:
    I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

  14. tim says:

    @ Quentin September 29, 2014 at 9:16 am
    Quentin, your logic is impeccable (and I agree with the result). But “the life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience” (Oliver Wendell Holmes, attrib.). And the European Court of Human Rights is not about to give a decision that would be almost universally ignored.

  15. Ignatius says:

    ” you said Genesis is a myth. ?
    Yours is an interesting proposition, that the original sin was “creating life independent of God”. Perhaps this is just your projected interpretation though..”

    As far as I can see it is pretty settled by now that the Catholic Church recognises Genesis
    ch 1-11as myth. “Myth” being a device for carrying non literal truth I should say. Milligan’s interpretation of life created independently I should say remains in the realm of personalised understanding….speculative in other words.

    • milliganp says:

      The interpretation was not my own. Let us not forget that what we call the OT the Jew’s call scripture. The interpretation is Rabbinical in origin, they add the allusion to figs which in the Middle East have always alluded to feminine sexuality in the way that the snake alludes to the male. At the end of the day it’s a sacred myth explain the indisputable fallen state of mankind.

      • Ignatius says:

        Sorry Milligamp, you have to explain all this in simple clear sentences. Precisely what is it you are trying to say about the Genesis story? Please include verse numbers etc.

  16. overload says:

    I have just been reading another ‘Guardian’ article (my fathers paper of choice; he handed this over to me) about the history of secularism, and ‘religion’ as a post-secularism concept (the privatisation of God as separate from state). The article includes discussion about human rights and arbitrary law. Gives a picture to me of how messy, confused and complex the relationship between the secular and Church, and a reminder that this is a corrupt fallen world of unending violence.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular
    I think we need protection, willingness, knowledge, humility, patience, acceptance, innocence, obedience, and unselfish kindness and love — all of which God surely gives without reservation or limit if we truly open up to and seek him—and through him each other—with the whole heart.

  17. Brendan says:

    ” Before [ becoming influenced by Catholicism ] embracing Christ and the Church, I had a strong natural moral sense. ” – says Overlord.
    The fact that Quentin’s little philosophy group somehow fails to see ( or somehow refuses to see ) that the ” inherent dignity of a person ” derives directly ” from an existential belief in God – by reason – says more for the accumulated chaos in human history which has little to do with a ‘ faith ‘ reinforced by reason and more to do with irrational thought put into action .
    This tragedy continues in human history – following the Fall – and as Quentin says, ” reason that ” transcends the material” , can lead one in one direction only – to faith in God – the only logical explanation. That is why the agnostic/ atheist, while moral, as they believe in the ‘ material ‘ sense, as the highest in the animal world are ‘ stuck ‘, if you like in a philosophical ‘ dead-end ‘ , not having recognized either by direct revelation or by a ‘ reasoning – based ‘ faith , the probable’ possible existence of a Supreme Being who ( in the personal sense ), directs and orchestrates everything that exists.
    I come to that belief not as a philosopher ,( maybe we are all armchair philosophers anyway ) but with the God – given intelligence ( such as it is ) assured as I am , along the path of the complimentarity of ‘ faith and reason ‘.
    2 Peter 1;2 – ” Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord “. ( N.J.B )

    Good to hear St.Joseph is making some headway – in my prayers.

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