Stop eating meat

If, like me, you have ‘millennial’ granddaughters you will have encountered vegetarianism. What, several years ago, was regarded as an eccentricity has become common. And, more than common, it appears to carry moral overtones. It is no longer a simple preference, it approaches an obligation. Fortunately my obvious senility excuses me.

Of course I understand the sentiment which cares about the cruelty of killing animals. But I wonder how solidly this is based. Several decades ago I happened, for good reason, to inspect the work in a slaughterhouse. I saw no cruelty there: the animals were instantaneously and completely stunned by the use of a stun bolt pistol. There are variations on this of course according to species but the law protecting animals appears comprehensive, though I am less happy about the religious (Jewish and Muslim) exceptions. But the granddaughters remain unimpressed at my thought that, if we eschewed meat, the animals would not have been allowed to be born in the first place.

It was very different in my youth when meat was heavily rationed. We lived in the country so I was required, with the help of a 12 bore shotgun, to provide rabbits for the table. And chickens were killed by methods I care not to describe. I recall my father coming home with the side of a pig. He was so proud of his success that we were obliged to eat it even when the smell from the larder, no refrigerator of course, suggested it was past its best. My least pleasant memory was the incompetent slaughter of a pig on a neighbouring farm. That will remain with me.

But the future is going to be different. The majority scientific belief is that serious and damaging climate warming is well on the way. One estimate is that in some 140 years we will reach carbon levels not experienced for 56 million years. While it is hard to differentiate between the natural long term cycles of temperature and the man-made contribution of carbon dioxide, it is only the latter over which we may have a degree of control. Meat production requires considerable energy and is responsible for 15 percent of man-made greenhouse gas. So, as the world population grows, our current level of meat consumption will need to be reduced. It would seem that the granddaughters will win.

A key body in this matter is the EU funded PROTEIN2FOOD. This is not an ideological vegetarian force but it is charged with guiding us towards vegetable species which can provide the protein we need and currently gain from meat. And perhaps I should add here that even today many well-meant vegetarian diets require supplements to achieve our full corporal needs. (visit https://bit.ly/2Hc1rbV )
PROTEIN2FOOD has, as its aim, to ”…produce plant-based protein food which is sustainable and so attractive that the consumers will prefer those to animal-based alternatives.” Much of their work is concerned with the Andes. This stretch from north to south in western South America moves through such a range of climates that it is not surprising that there are some 30,000 species of endemic plants. I fear that I know few of their names. The target is high protein plants which can be used to make dairy substitutes, cold drinks, appetizers, salads, main dishes, breads, and pastries. One plant involved (quinoa) has sufficient varieties to enable such a range.

Complementary to this ingenuity, work is being done to enable these plants to prosper in our more temperate climate. And further work is being done with ancient European crops, such as buckwheat and lentil. The potential result is versions of pasta, vegetable beverages, protein bars, healthy breakfast cereals and infant food. I will temper my enthusiasm until I am offered these dishes. I am not sceptical but I am wary until I have tasted the outcome. PROTEIN2FOOD will be finishing its work during the current year and we are promised a full display of their results next January.

And there is another substantial benefit. A recent study from the University of Colorado in Boulder has established that cooking a Sunday roast and vegetables exposes us to dangerous airborne particles at the level 20 times higher than the World Health Organization limit, and several times higher than central London on a congested day. These particles (PB2.5) are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and are related to 29,000 premature deaths annually in the UK. Frying food has a similar propensity. The kitchen particles can remain at a dangerous level for some eight hours. There is an irony in the likelihood that the grand cooking of the great Christmas dinner to celebrate the gift of life is possibly lethal. At least, keep the fan on, and the windows open!

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Catholic Herald columns, Climate Change, Quentin queries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Stop eating meat

  1. galerimo says:

    A thoroughly good and interesting read. Thank you, Quentin. My advice is not to underestimate the powers of persuasion that your millennial granddaughter obviously possesses.

    Recently, there have been some nasty exchanges between vegans and dairy farmers here.

    Animals have been stolen and properties invaded for filming in order to expose farming conditions on the Internet. Death threats were also received by some dairy farmers.

    But it’s worse than that.

    Australia is the world’s largest exporter of live sheep and one of the largest exporters of live cattle, by sea, for slaughter.

    1.7 million sheep were exported live in 2017 and cattle exports peaked in 2014 with over 1 million.

    These animals sent mostly to the Middle East are slaughtered after undergoing a sea journey in excess of 6,000 miles.

    There has been some success in reducing the numbers sent during northern summers when temperatures endured by the animals are around 32-35 degrees Celsius (90’s F) and humidity in the same figures. However the trade continues.

    About 2,400 sheep died in August 2017 while being exported from Australia to the Middle East, mostly from heat stress.

    In the Southeast corner of Australia up to the time of European settlement, and perhaps fifty or so years after, there was a very different source of protein. It caused a summertime migration of Aboriginal people to exploit a unique food source — a moth.

    Specifically, the food the Aborigines hunted there was the Bogong moth in a mountainous region just south and west of the nation’s capital, Canberra.

    When the adult moths emerge from the chrysalis, they migrate into the high plateau in enormous numbers and settle in solid blankets on the exposed rock faces and boulders going into the summer torpor called aestivation.

    That made it easy to catch them but they had to be cooked in a very special way. The Indigenous tribes reputedly would return from these high regions with shining skin and bodies brim full of health and vitality.

    So there are other, kinder alternatives from which to source our protein, minerals and vitamins without going completely vegetarian and many that could be learned again from former times.

  2. John Thomas says:

    I think we always have to know exactly what is talked about, here, and exactly where it is coming from. Environmentalism/ecologism may be reasonable, and appear so, but it is in the end an ideology, a political one. No, I’m not suggesting that this invalidates it, but we should be aware of just where it’s coming from. Remember, vegtarianism flies (intentionally?) in the face of traditional Christianity (and other religions; Muslims, unlike Christians, will NOT deviate from what god has told them they may/must do, for the sake of moral scruples, environmentalist doomsaying, etc.). You have to be a complete materialist, I believe, to think that animals are, and can be regarded as, truly “equal” to humans (I await an animal summit conference demanding their rights, etc.) Also, the scientific doomsaying is something that I think we must be wary of. Science does NOT proceed by adoption of consensuses, or we would still be in the late Middle Ages, technologically speaking – and we must resist the neo-Mathusiansim which is so de rigeur – at the moment (never believe that things will never change; expect a big reaction to many current shibboleths in a century or so). I worry quite a bit about the suffering of animals – I just don’t like the taste of vegetable-based food …

  3. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // If, like me, you have ‘millennial’ granddaughters you will have encountered vegetarianism. What, several years ago, was regarded as an eccentricity has become common. And, more than common, it appears to carry moral overtones. It is no longer a simple preference, it approaches an obligation. //

    “Moral” only in the sense of sentimental. Your granddaughters, I’ll wager, have no qualms about killing human babies in the womb or bacteria and viruses that are laying them low.

    And expect that in the near future, killing plant life will to your granddaughters’ daughters be as abhorrent as killing animal life is now to their mothers.

    The workings of the collective social mind is a strange thing to behold.

    • Quentin says:

      While the situation has not arisen I would be very surprised if my granddaughters had no qualms about killing babies in the womb.

      • David Smith says:

        I apologize, Quentin, if I offended. I meant no personal disrespect.

        What I intended to imply was that the tendency toward logical inconsistency among the young in moral matters is so strong and so widespread that it is bound to affect everyone, whether in religious families or not. Anyone who participates in mainstream culture, even minimally, is bound to be affected, and to some extent swayed, by the prevailing biases. It cannot be helped. If you swim in the ocean, you will get wet.

  4. Geordie says:

    What about the poor moths?

  5. John Candido says:

    Vegetarianism has become more popular and the environment has played a part in its popularity.
    I have become much more vegetarian due to my non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes.
    My younger brother and I were always expected to finish whatever food was in front of us, which is a very unhealthy practice.
    As a result, we both struggled with our weight as teenagers and young adults.
    Vegetables are central to what I eat today.
    You can eat a lot of meat and still feel hungry; you cannot say the same with a dish of vegetables because of the dietary fibre found in plants.
    I still eat eggs, seafood, butter, and drink full-cream milk, so there is no need to consume a lot of meat.
    Eating meat while delicious is not something that I go looking for or need.
    I am not a complete vegetarian as I will occasionally eat meat, but I no longer hold the view that meat is absolutely essential to a healthy diet.
    The latest science around the human microbiome or the level of good and bad intestinal bacteria found in everybody’s digestive system is a new discovery that supports the consumption of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
    There is a lot of ideological thinking surrounding food today, which I mainly ignore and try to stick to whatever is considered to be a broad consensus in modern nutrition.
    There is an international race to who can produce artificial meat that is healthier than normal meat and does not have much of an impact on the environment.
    If artificial meat tastes as good as the real thing, the team that brings this to the grocery stores around the world first will be very wealthy.

  6. Nektarios says:

    Interesting the views so far, but the arguments for vegetarianism seem to be written by townies or city dwellers, and the intolerant philosophy behind it, written by people with little or no
    understanding of the countryside, farming, or animal husbandry. Land management in many places around the world dictates grazing animals rather than vegetables or grains. These flocks and herds are highly valuable to poorer farmers not just for the meat, but for milk, wool and leather etc.
    They bang on about the killing of animals being cruel without really knowing if it is or isn’t, just an emotional response.

    Others go on about the effects of climate change, another red-herring. There have been changes that endanger that affect people from storms. Alas, I have to tell you, storms have nothing to do with climate change as such, as any serious scientific climatologist will tell you.

    People who have the choice, are quite free to eat meat or not, it is a matter choice. Lucky are those who have the choice. Are you going to tell an Eskimo not to eat meat? Those in temperate or cold climes need meat dishes as they burn a lot of energy to survive. Middle Eastern climes which are hot most of the time, need far less energy to survive and so can afford to eat less meat.

  7. Iona says:

    I am impressed by the argument from dentition. We have (if we get them all, – and keep them all) 32 teeth. 8 of these are incisors, with straight edges for cutting into foods such as the larger fruits (apples, pears) and roots (carrots etc.) 4 are canines, with sharp points for holding firmly to flesh meats while tearing them into smaller portions; the remaining 18 are molars, for grinding up nuts, seeds (grains), and the bitten-off pieces of fruit, root, and meat aforesaid. I conclude that we have evolved to eat foods in similar proportions; small amounts of meat, larger amounts of vegetables and fruits, larger still of seeds grains and nuts.
    This of course doesn’t take into account the different foods we have encountered, not to say different climatic conditions, as we spread around the world from wherever we originated (Africa?). As Nektarios points out, people living in the far north will have to live mainly on meat (and fish), because what else is there? Some fruits in the late summer. Seaweeds, perhaps. Not enough to sustain life year-round.

    • David Smith says:

      Iona writes:

      // We have (if we get them all, – and keep them all) 32 teeth. 8 of these are incisors, with straight edges for cutting into foods such as the larger fruits (apples, pears) and roots (carrots etc.) 4 are canines, with sharp points for holding firmly to flesh meats while tearing them into smaller portions; the remaining 18 are molars, for grinding up nuts, seeds (grains), and the bitten-off pieces of fruit, root, and meat aforesaid. //

      You neglected to cite your source.

      • David Smith says:

        I wrote:

        // You neglected to cite your source. //

        Sorry, that should have been followed with a :o)

        I fancy I see a tendency on the part of people sometimes to ascribe conscious cause to evolutionary results. Of course, if one sees evolution as directed – or micromanaged – by God, that’s a different matter.

    • Barrie says:

      It is perhaps unfortunate that Quentin’s article about food should have coincided with one of the worst diasters to hit our screens (but not our life styles) that shows us that perhaps we should pay more attention both nationally and internationally to the world food production and distribution in both good times and bad. If we are to believe what we read a large proportion of the worlds population doesn’t have enough food to rely on in good times let alone bad. Also even the most carefully structured emergency plans go badly wrong if the infrastructure is demolished by the disaster as in the most recent case. So forgive me but I have found the discussions – although in some casss highlighting what happens in a more realistic way helpful – have spent time sizing up what folks like and dislike are when perhaps more careful thought needs to be applied to the have nots of the world.

      • David Smith says:

        Barrie writes:

        // If we are to believe what we read a large proportion of the worlds population doesn’t have enough food to rely on in good times let alone bad. //

        It’s my understanding that relatively few people starve to death now, though a great many did so in the not too distant past.

        Widespread malnutrition (“doesn’t have enough food”) is very different from mass starvation.

        Don’t food emergencies that persist after natural disasters like the one that recently hit southeast Africa trace primarily to logistical and political difficulties, rather than to lack of available food?

  8. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // A recent study from the University of Colorado in Boulder has established that cooking a Sunday roast and vegetables exposes us to dangerous airborne particles at the level 20 times higher than the World Health Organization limit, and several times higher than central London on a congested day. These particles (PB2.5) are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and are related to 29,000 premature deaths annually in the UK. Frying food has a similar propensity. //

    I can see it now. The UK, New Zealand, and Canada will make frying food punishable by life in prison. The condemned will be offered freedom on condition that he apologizes abjectly and convincingly on the BBC and performs five years of service on a vegetable farm. The building in which he fried his food will be destroyed and the land given to the citizen who reported him. Possession of a fry pan will be a felony.

  9. Nektarios says:

    David Smith

    You have yet to understand what Quentin’s comment from the University of Colorado in Boulder is, scaremongering and part of the Globalist agenda in an attempt to shut down production in the West.

    Your tongue in cheek comment of making frying food a felony is a bit like that Sunday roast, a trifle overdone, don’t you think?

    With regards to Iona’s comment about one’s teeth, they are there by God’s creation, proving we are omnivores.
    Not only that, the bacteria in our gut is sustained by an omnivore diet. To cook meat is necessary
    to destroy harmful bacteria from animal products, and to tinker with age-old wisdom is to court peril.

    Further, an essential Vitamin B12 is only sourced from animal products and to produce supplements of Vitamin B12 for vegan foods requires huge factories!

    Vegetarianism and veganism are the luxuries of the city dweller in close reach of a supermarket.
    Transplant the city dweller to any number of country settings and see him/her change their tune pronto.

    • David Smith says:

      Nektarios writes:

      // Your tongue in cheek comment of making frying food a felony is a bit like that Sunday roast, a trifle overdone, don’t you think? //

      I’m afraid you’re right. Thanks for saying so.

  10. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios talks a lot of sense when he keeps off religion. By the way, I don’t think many millennial grandsons are infected by vegetarianism and one hopes that even silly little girls will eventually grow out of it.

  11. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    Even in a nice friendly comment on what I posted, you spoiled it with a personal opinion about me.

    I have noted that you are OK with people who agree with you, but I see all too clearly you are stuck in a rut especially with religion. It is as though you have imbibed some teaching but lost the key to learning more. Is this not so?
    I see a certain amount of frustration with those who would disagree with you, me especially it would seem, but unfortunately you are locked in.
    God is bigger than religion, faith, that gift of God, is also bigger higher, wider and deeper and not given by religion, but from God, must be infuriating for you? You or the Church don’t actually control it.

    If I say my position is right, or you insist your position is right, where we would be the best of friends no doubt, you want to kill me, demolish me at every turn, patronizing me as though your position was right, or you judge yourself superior to me. There does not seem to be a way around your enclosed, trapped, locked in position. What is to be done, what can be done?

  12. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios

    Religion is not a matter of opinion, be it yours or mine. I was baptized and confirmed in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. After the usual teenage doubts I read myself back into the Faith (not that I had really lost it, since it is a gift of God). Despite the trials and tribulations of the Catholic Church in the last 50 years, I firmly and truly believe her to be the bride of Christ, preserved from error by the Holy Ghost. I also believe she is the essential pillar of western civilization. Had I the time and the inclination I could expand on this, but you might as well be a Moslem or a Buddhist in the extent that you would comprehend it.

    You are at liberty to oppose the Catholic Church, root and branch. I know where you are coming from; you have made it quite clear. You are a religious fanatic, and there is no point in arguing with you. I know many Protestants who may not agree with every Catholic doctrinal position, but have a great respect for the Catholic Church as an institution. You have none. I have even met Moslems who choose to send their children to Catholic schools. You represent the Taleban of anti-Catholic prejudice, and what is worse, you arrogate your intellect over that of St Gregory the Great, St Thomas Aquinas and Bl. John Henry Newman, to name but three. According to the great prophet Nektarios, they were all ‘locked in’ or ‘stuck in a rut’.

    Do us all a favour and confine your comments to non-religious matters. I don’t want to kill you, why should I? You damn yourself with your erroneous and arrogant opinions.

  13. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    I hope you are feeling better after getting all that unsubstantiated and slanderous statements off your chest. I am sure the readers and contributors don’t want any more of it and indulging in reverse psychology blaming others of what is the real truth you or the RCC are guilty of.
    Don’t respond to this, John.

    • John Nolan says:

      I regard myself as honour bound to respond to anti-Catholic bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head. Sectarianism is still rife in Scotland. Are you an Orangeman, by any chance?

      • Nektarios says:

        John Nolan
        I am not an Orangeman. And for your infomation, all my forebears were Roman Catholics going back to Northern Ireland to the early 1800s. I have only recently with help found out about by Catholic forebears background.

        Sectarianism and sectarian bigotry is is always ugly, not guilty.
        Like I said previously on the blog, I am not anti-catholic, but it does need reform, but not in the liberal direction Pope Francis is taking it.

      • Alasdair says:

        If I might refine the point about “Sectarianism being rife in Scotland”. In most of my life from birth to late adulthood in Scotland I never encountered sectarianism. That is also the case for that vast majority of the population. Indeed in my city most people probably think an Orangeman is a specialist food importer. It even has to be explained from time to time that Protestant is a historical term describing an anti-catholic movement. Presbyterians, Baptists etc do not use, identify or maybe even know of the term.
        I did have the misfortune once to share a railway carriage with football “supporters” who were expressing what, it was explained to me, were sectarian views. That went over my head as the Irish historical references were lost on me.
        So if I may clarify: Sectarianism is not rife in Scotland. It is confined almost entirely to a subculture that revolves around football – and that almost entirely to a limited geographic area.

  14. Geordie says:

    John Nolan, I also believe the Holy Ghost protects us from error with regard to doctrine. However, the Catechism says that He protects us from error in morals as well. I find this difficult to believe because the Church has given us a variety of teachings on morals over the centuries; some of them contradictory.
    For example, I think it was Pope Gregory the Great who taught that sexual intercourse between man and wife was sinful if the couple enjoyed it. This is obviously ridiculous and the opposite of what is taught and believed now.
    Another example occurred in the 1920’s; the pope condemned mixed education in an encyclical letter as “the promiscuous mixing of the sexes”. If this were true, almost every Catholic comprehensive school in the country is living in sin.

    • Quentin says:

      You may find the following interesting.

      From Sexual Morality in the Catholic Tradition Todd A. Salzman & and Michael G. Lawler
      Georgetown University Press / Washington, D.C.

      “Pope Gregory the Great shared Augustine’s judgment that, because of the presence of concupiscence, even genital pleasure between spouses in the act of procreation is sinful. He went further and banned from access to the Church those who had just had pleasurable intercourse. ‘‘The custom of the Romans from antiquity,’ ’he explained, ‘‘has always been, after sexual intercourse with one’s spouse, both to cleanse oneself by washing and to abstain reverently from entering the church for a time. In saying this we do not intend to say that sexual intercourse is sinful. But because every lawful sexual intercourse between spouses cannot take place without bodily pleasure, they are to refrain from entering the holy place. For such pleasure cannot be without sin.”

      • John Candido says:

        This is an interesting quotation.

        It is instructive for two reasons.

        Firstly, it is a window into how some people in the church thought about sex a very long time ago.

        As such, it is an invaluable insight into how sex was considered by people in authority many years ago.

        Secondly, hardly anyone thinks about sex like this anymore.

        The church has moved away from thinking about sex in the same way as its forebears.

        This quotation is a clear example of a change in its thinking about sex.

    • David Smith says:

      Geordie writes:

      // This is obviously ridiculous //

      For me, a little red flag pops up when I hear someone declare that something someone else has said is “ridiculous” or “nonsense” or “absurd” or “laughable” or “asinine” or “ignorant” or “clueless” or “pathetic”.

      Pet peeve :o)

    • David Smith says:

      John Candido writes:

      // The church has moved away from thinking about sex in the same way as its forebears.

      This quotation is a clear example of a change in its thinking about sex. //

      I’d not be so sure of that, John. It’s an example of a different attitude, a different emotional reaction on the part of the cleric, but the objectionable principle – the sin – is still there: privileging physical pleasure over procreation.

  15. John Nolan says:

    Geordie

    I am no moral theologian, but would suggest that what St Gregory taught about concupiscence is not at odds with the teachings of his successors, still less ‘obviously ridiculous’ except on a very superficial level. Concupiscence can indeed exist within marriage.

    Once one accepts the premise that the Church has contradicted itself in matters of morals, then the door is open to moral relativism. Same sex marriage – why not? Abortion? – no problem, the Church might well change its mind, so let’s go ahead anyway.

    • David Smith says:

      John Nolan writes:

      // I am no moral theologian, but would suggest that what St Gregory taught about concupiscence is not at odds with the teachings of his successors, still less ‘obviously ridiculous’ except on a very superficial level. Concupiscence can indeed exist within marriage. //

      Agreed. When you remove from sex the possibility of procreation, you open the door to what we’ve been witnessing throughout the West since the introduction of the birth control pill.

    • Quentin says:

      Forgive me for adding a clarification – since I put in the quote. The OED, referring to the Latin, simply defines concupiscence as sexual desire, or the beginning of sexual desire. Sexual desire by the male is required for penetration, and the female desire response is biologically facilitative. Thus concupiscence in sexual intercourse is required by natural law and cannot, per se, be sinful. In addition we know that shared sexual desire is ordinarily strongly supportive of the marriage relationship.

      Gregory and Augustine are understandable: the first because as a celibate any sexual desire was potentially evil, the second because his experience of sexual desire and consequent activity had been unlawful.

  16. John Candido says:

    One of the largest meat processors in the UK called ABP, has launched a plant-based meat alternative.

    https://theconversation.com/why-the-meat-industry-could-win-big-from-the-switch-to-veggie-lifestyles-112714

    • galerimo says:

      Interesting reading on this process of veggie alternatives to meat.

      I wonder if the proper regulation and policing of abattoirs as well as development of more humane ways of killing animals that are bred for consumption attracts similar levels of funding and development.

  17. Geordie says:

    John Nolan
    Moral relativism is what worries me about our present and recent-past leaders in the Church. However, I can’t understand some of the moral teachings that just fit in with the fashions of the day. Nektarios is right when he says we should go back to the Gospels for true teaching. There is nothing in the Bible that condemns married couples for enjoying sexual relations. The Jews considered and still consider it as a gift from God. Augustine’s attitude to sex was coloured by his own guilty conscience from his early life.

    The door to moral relativism is wide open. Because of sexual abuse scandals, the bishops have lost the moral high ground and many people ignore much of what they say.

    I believe in a merciful God who will find mitigating circumstances for us, sinners but mercy without justice is sentimentality.

    JP2 embraced Marcial and said that he was a true son of the Church. Surely he must have known about Marcial’s reputation. If he didn’t, it sounds like culpable ignorance to me.
    Francis makes so many ambiguous statements it is difficult to know what exactly he means.
    I have great sympathy with innocent divorcees who remarry and wish to receive Holy Communion but do priests have the right give them permission to proceed?

    • David Smith says:

      Geordie writes:

      // The door to moral relativism is wide open. Because of sexual abuse scandals, the bishops have lost the moral high ground and many people ignore much of what they say. //

      True, alas. The Church hierarchy have shown themselves guilty of widespread hypocrisy and immorality. Even now they exhibit, with perhaps a few individual exceptions, little to no contrition over the sexual mess in which they’ve been complicit and even participant.

      It’s a cruel reality that even if he wants to (which looks doubtful) the Pope probably cannot deal directly with the disease that has become the Church’s homosexual culture because if he did, the hierarchy would fall apart, so many of them would have to be targeted.

      In the meantime, the secular media have effectively tarred the Catholic hierarchy as a cabal of morally clueless old men, insensitive, at best, to the predations of a clergy rife with pedophiles.

    • Martha says:

      I am not sure what constitutes moral relativism. We are told not to judge, and we are also told not to condone sin. How do we know where any other person stands in the eyes of God, or indeed ourselves? We do not know what influences affect the choices any individual makes, or the power of example and peer pressure on different personalities. Anyone who is trying to do the best that they know, depending on all the circumstances of their lives and upbringing, especially emotional and psychological, is surely in the love of God. Father forgive them, they know not what they do.

      • David Smith says:

        Martha, I’ve tried several times to reply to your “I am not sure what constitutes moral relativism” comment. Each time, WordPress has rejected the text. I suspect the program is confusing what I wrote for spam. Other WordPress users have had this problem. I’ve asked Quentin to check his WordPress mail spam folder. If he finds my reply there, he can mark it “not spam” and all will be well.

        In the meantime, what I was trying to say, more or less, is that for me moral relativism is a way of thinking that excuses belief and behavior outside the norms, guidelines, or dictates of one’s chosen group by a simplistic sort of logic. The moral relativist wants to remain in the group, but he also wants to be excepted from the rules that guide other members. He wants to eat his cake but still have it on the table before him.

        For example, a homosexually inclined Catholic priest who’s a moral relativist might want to excuse himself from the Church’s prohibition that he act out his sexual attraction with other homosexuals. He might reason thus: My sexuality is a gift from God. If God gives me a gift, He surely cannot expect me to refuse it, all the more so if refusing it would cause me great pain, which would distract me from doing the work that I, as a priest of His, am put on earth to do. That the Church refuses to give me permission to do this is proof that it has failed to keep up with the times. Today, all enlightened thinkers, both in and out of the Church, agree that homosexuality is normal and healthy. Because of a regrettable tendency on the part of some clerics in the Vatican who are still living mentally in the Middle Ages, the Church’s rules on sexual behavior have yet to adapt to modern realities. That surely will happen eventually. In anticipation of that, trusting to the mercy of God and the sympathy and understanding of theologians and others who have grown with the times, I am free to be in all ways the sexual person God created me.

      • Nektarios says:

        Martha

        To answer your question above on moral relativism.

        Moral relativism essentially is the cultural and social moral situation in any given society.
        For the Christian, moral relativism is to follow this world, which in turn means, one does not know or is following the propaganda put out by such groups who are of this world and not of the Kingdom of God, therefore, they are, as long as they remain it, enemies of God.

        Moral relativism is also a result of the Fall of Mankind. It is man continuing to rebel against
        God, will not have Him rule over one, so clever inventive man, devises his own morality
        which of course allows him/her to continue in their sin showing he is not a Christian if unrepentant, but still a rebel against God.

        It is not the Catholic Church that rules on sexuality and behaviour, but God. It is not edifying to see liberalism taking control In the Church, they do not speak for Christians or Christianity – they are out to destroy it so they can continue in rebellion against God and His authority.
        And let me be as clear as I can, it is obvious to any thinking person, let alone a Christian,
        the authority of any ecclesiastic body today or at any time has never carried the authority of God. The only times in human history when it did, was when Our Lord walked and talked among us; When the Holy Spirit led and set up the Christian Church through the doctrines and teachings of the Holy Apostles. God was always in control and the sole authority over the Church in Christ. There is none other.
        The authority over the Church lies in the head of the Church alone. He lives and has not given that authority to anyone else.

      • Alan says:

        David Smith,

        The priest you describe could just as easily conclude that the Church had the potential for making the mistakes about its moral position even if he thought those morals were God given absolutes.

  18. John Nolan says:

    Geordie

    The early Church Fathers did indeed have a rather negative attitude towards sexual intercourse – after all they were ascetic celibates. However, Auberon Waugh once remarked that what would be guaranteed to take all pleasure out of the marital act would be the thought of Father O’Bubblegum nodding his approval in the background.

    Even marital intercourse involves a surrender to passions which are basically irrational. DH Lawrence touched on this aspect when he wrote ‘the God who created man must have had a sinister sense of humour, creating hm a reasonable being yet forcing him to take this ridiculous posture and driving him with blind craving for this humiliating performance … Men despised the intercourse act, and yet did it.’ (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 1928)

    In the same year, George Bernard Shaw wrote ‘Already there is a pleasure in thought – creative thought – that is entirely detached from ridiculous and disgusting acts and postures.’ He went on to say that it cannot be said of Einstein’s work that ‘the pleasure is momentary, the position is ridiculous, and the expense damnable.’

    This last quotation is usually attributed to the 18th century wit Lord Chesterfield, but does not appear in any of his writings.

  19. John Candido says:

    If there is any question on how humans can increase their stores of Vitamin B12, this link can be of assistance.

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-foods

  20. John Candido says:

    One would hope that that would be the case as they are worthy and humane activities, galerimo.

  21. Iona says:

    I can’t help wondering whether, if the concupiscent husband insisted on his right to sex, and his tired wife really didn’t fancy it but submitted and didn’t enjoy it, did she get to go to church in the morning whereas he had to stay home?

  22. Martha says:

    Thank you for your perseverance, David. That has happened to me several times, including this fourth attempt now which I think is at last succeeding by using a Word Press icon. Pasting the comment onto the screen before proceeding, can make sure a comment is not lost, and then I don’t need to start again for the next attempt. I also find that I can log straight in from my phone, but not previously from the desk top, which required the email address and password every time.

    You give a very good and detailed example of a priest trying to rationalise what is objectively wrong, and sinful. I suppose to teach and encourage others to believe that his decision and actions are right would be moral relativism, but for him, for a particular individual, only God can know how sincere he is subjectively, and judge him accordingly. I think, it is very easy to delude ourselves, we can have very mixed motives for a lot of things we do, and different people are influenced in so many ways that it is very difficult to apply strict rules individually.

    I am afraid this is right off the topic of meat eating.

  23. David Smith says:

    Martha writes:

    // I suppose to teach and encourage others to believe that his decision and actions are right would be moral relativism, but for him, for a particular individual, only God can know how sincere he is subjectively, and judge him accordingly. //

    But teaching and encouraging others is inevitably what he will do, by example. Then, if he evades censure, others will follow him. Soon, it’s become the norm. This seems to be what’s happening in Germany with the bishops’ desire to give the eucharist to non-Catholics. Whether the reason behind not censuring misbehavior is mercy or indecision or sympathy or even a desire to give tacit approval and support, the result is the same: if the misbehavior is attractive enough to enough people, it becomes approved practice, by default.

    // I am afraid this is right off the topic of meat eating. //

    Yes and no. Quentin wrote:

    // What, several years ago, was regarded as an eccentricity has become common. And, more than common, it appears to carry moral overtones. //

    That’s one way social changes come about. Someone shouts out an appealing idea, there’s an upwelling of sympathy, the moral authorities and thought leaders don’t object and correct or even engage in intelligent dialogue, sympathy increases, belief grows, and suddenly you have a new irresistible moral movement, caused by little more than emotionalism and a failure to add reason and community standards to the conversation. The proposal to stop killing animals in order to provide food for humans is worth talking about, but it should not be allowed to gain political traction without being adequately challenged.

  24. Alan says:

    “One estimate is that in some 140 years we will reach carbon levels not experienced for 56 million yea One estimate is that in some 140 years we will reach carbon levels not experienced for 56 million years.”

    This seems like an odd thing to point out. Why look to a prediction of some record yet to be set when we have atmospheric levels of CO2 that already exceed any known to have existed for the past 800,000 years (possibly much longer)? Is there some particular significance to this 56 million year date?

    The actual data seems much more impactful to me. The air is already “heavy with CO2” in the ways that matter to us.

  25. Nektarios says:

    Alan
    According to various ways of measuring climate change, which is always changing, up and down, in the middle ages, the temperature was around 4 degrees higher than now.
    Over the last 17 years or so, the science, properly carried out, has shown little or no change to the climate.
    CO2 is natural gas and will not harm anyone. It is essential for the tree and plant life to grow and without which our oxygen levels in the atmosphere would be somewhat depleted.

    These figures supply, you supply, Alan, are based on nothing, just plucked out of the air (excuse the pun) as a scaremongering tactic.
    The IPCC is not to be trusted on climate change. The climatologist’s and scientists are all bought and paid for and in fear of speaking out.

    • Alan says:

      Nektarios,

      “According to various ways of measuring climate change, which is always changing, up and down, in the middle ages, the temperature was around 4 degrees higher than now.”

      Regardless of the way in which it is measured, the 4 degree figure you quote is not one for global temperatures. That you feel the need to point out that the climate is “always changing, up and down, ” suggests to me that you don’t appreciate the problem as it is expressed by the scientific community.

      “Over the last 17 years or so, the science, properly carried out, has shown little or no change to the climate.”

      As is true for a number of different selected periods of similar length over the last couple of hundred years and more. The longer term trend remains and that recent “pause” is dwarfed by it.

      “CO2 is natural gas and will not harm anyone.”

      Anyone could demonstrate within the matter of a few minutes that this is a ridiculous claim.

      “It is essential for the tree and plant life to grow and without which our oxygen levels in the atmosphere would be somewhat depleted.”

      Water is similarly essential. That in no way suggests it cannot be harmful.

      “The IPCC is not to be trusted on climate change. The climatologist’s and scientists are all bought and paid for and in fear of speaking out.”

      Including the ones you quoted earlier in this thread and recommend that we listen to with respect to storms? You should listen to the rest of what those “serious scientific climatologist” types are saying. There’s money on both sides.

  26. Nektarios says:

    Alan

    I did reply to you but somehow it has vanished from the blog.
    So the shorter version. Storms, hurricanes and the like, as any climatologist will tell you has nothing to do with climate change but simply the changing weather. That changing weather patterns have been going on for millenniums. Even in early biblical times, there was flooding, times of drought and famine usually every seven-year cycles. One presumes this has been going on long before man appeared on the scene, a relative newcomer to the block as it were.

    Of course, there are more healthy levels of CO2 and Water, both can be dangerous at serious increased levels, but we are nowhere near those levels today.
    The IPCC is as guilty as hell, along with others, putting out scaremongering misinformation.

    Take a look at the IPCC, who are they? Are they mostly unelected leaders such as we find in the Middle East, in the EU in Europe and in the UN. Google up ‘Agenda 21’ to see how the UN plan to shut down the West and pay for the privilege. How it plans to get rid of Billions of people and enslave the rest. This was not the UN’s thinking at all initially but was mad Nazi planning thought up between 1938-1942. Nothing new but communications being faster, it has become propaganda of the past passing as today’s facts.

  27. G.D says:

    Google ‘weather manipulation technology’ ….

  28. Nektarios says:

    G.D

    This only reinforces what I said earlier about Globalization. HAARP has been on the go for a long time now. It is not a new technology as such, but the applications of it for war and weather modification has moved forward apace and goes well beyond the level of conspiracy theories today. Changing weather patterns also plays into the hands of the IPCC’s money grabbing and shutting down the West.
    This is Globalization at work in the UN, EU, UK and other countries. It is inhuman and to me, self-defeating and utter madness. Will that stop them?
    Time perhaps to stand against Globalism with all its wicked facets.
    It’s enough to put one right off having a good heart protein-filled meal, isn’t it?

    • Alasdair says:

      Could we perhaps now have a clear list of what the the wicked facets of Globalism actually are. Do they include avoidance of waste and good stewardship and encouraging others to do likewise? If so I fear that I already bear the mark of the beast.
      The wickedness is even catching on in Texas from where I am writing this. The Houston Independent Schools District will be running events tomorrow to mark Earth Day.

  29. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // the law protecting animals appears comprehensive, though I am less happy about the religious (Jewish and Muslim) exceptions. //

    What’s worrisome about them? What should be done about it? To what extent should “science” trump religious tradition and practice? At what points is science likely to shade off into politics?

  30. Nektarios says:

    The law protecting animals, that is for health reasons more than anything else especially in the killing of animals which is permitted by God.
    In our so-called liberal society, it seems to care more about animals than humans. The difference is,
    in the killing. Killing of a human being in the Hebrew Exodus 20, the word is murder. In other words, Thou shalt not murder. I have not got space here to go into all that, just that one is the killing of an animal and the other, murder of a human being. If anything demonstrates the wickedness and sinfulness of man, it is the murdering of fellow human beings.

    You write, David, ‘To what extent should “science” trump religious tradition and practice?’ Does it?
    Here again, it depends whom science serves, and what the end result is and for what?
    Christianity, if we are speaking about that, if it is ceasing to truly serve God science appears to have trumped religion in many respects, but both ultimately fails the acid test when it comes to, Thou Shalt Not Murder which relates to fellow human beings. Science has failed in the Big Pharma, where much of it is literally murdering
    millions. Science used for ever-increasing methods and means of murdering millions for our so-called protection, although it was beyond the wit of man to stop murdering one another. For centuries it appears it has failed to do so.
    Religion has not been beyond murder for its own ends, and scientists for a price of influence, power and money will supply the needful to murder.
    If the practice of science and religion has descended into the hell of ultimately murdering others, it is the same wicked nature controlling it. Neither trump the other, both fail. But having said that, the truth exists, true Christianity serving God, and true science that does not murder each other for whatever reasons.

    You further ask, David, ‘At what points is science likely to shade off into politics?’ This perhaps the easiest to see and answer.

    Do follow this, it starts in Education, the University, then applying oneself to a particular science discipline. Behind all that training are Governments with their agendas and demands.
    Then, there is funding by Governments and huge corporations.
    So the first thing to look at is the funding of the scientist.

    The second thing to look at is the uses of funding to a particular science.
    For example, NASA is not so much concerned with outer scape that the feed the public with, it is a Government Organization, China, India and Russia have their own versions of the same. NASA is primarily military with military ends which will mean the murder of millions.

    I selected NASA in particular because with that comes to the political angle on this. Space.
    Here the scientists have introduced over a long period now, the idea God is not out there, so there is no God, they say.
    The scientist is no longer as free as he/she think they are. Along with science, comes the atheistic philosophy. Behind that are their political masters; and behind them, the prince of this world, the devil.

  31. Alasdair says:

    I presume that the warnings from the University of Colorado (Quentin’s introduction) relate to the cooking process using gas rather than the issue of meat per se.

    • David Smith says:

      // A recent study from the University of Colorado in Boulder has established that cooking a Sunday roast and vegetables exposes us to dangerous airborne particles at the level 20 times higher than the World Health Organization limit, and several times higher than central London on a congested day. These particles (PB2.5) are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and are related to 29,000 premature deaths annually in the UK. //

      It’s not perfectly clear what Quentin’s saying in this paragraph. Journalists are often like that these days – they offer vague information from “scientific” sources to buttress the points they’re making, often only obliquely and by implication and innuendo. Here, Quentin’s saying, sort of, that killing and cooking animals is bad for at least several reasons, one of which is that it causes air pollution and kills people. Is it the gas from the stove that did the deed? Maybe, and maybe not. That’s left to the imagination of the reader. The doubt has been planted. The writer’s job is done.

      • Nektarios says:

        I watched a recent programme where the problem with these small particles inhaled into the lungs was plastic, but I may be wrong on this?

      • Quentin says:

        David, you make a valid point here. A science writer has continually to decide whether a study or a report of a study is sufficiently reliable for its purpose in his text. The evidence can range from the original complete study (often several thousand words and pages of stats) to a professional organisation which summarises the study and identifies any questionable issues, to a report in a professional magazine such as Scientific American or New Scientist. I have for instance built up a reference system which allows me quickly to look up relevant studies – there are several hundred entries over the last decade. But simple space only allows me a few lines to report. You have to decide whether I am sufficiently reliable.

  32. Himanaya says:

    Lovely post! I’d be delighted if you check out mine on a similar topic-
    http://www.himanaya.com

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