I know we cannot reach an agreement on this because we are both applying
different moral frameworks to the problem. You seem to be a consequentialist
in this regard. While I also sympathize with people who are in such misery
that they wish they were dead, I cannot allow my emotions to make moral
decisions for me.
I was hoping that you would atleast give me reason to question and
reevaluate my position, but unfortunately, I see nothing in your explanation
that is convincing to me. In all honesty and with due respect, I think your
position is incoherent (meaning that it is internally inconsistent). I hope
that you will give this issue a lot more thought.
From: Lucy Masters
Sent: 2/23/2002 7:45 AM
Subject: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]
Well...I guess we'll just have to "agree to disagree." Your definition
of what's "bad" or "evil" is just different from my definition. I don't
think death is evil, I sympathize deeply with folks in the hospital who
want to die, I think it's the heighth of stupidity to feed people who
refuse to practice birth control, reckless to use antibiotics on a
massive scale, and on and on. The argument which you and I engage in
here on an individual basis is reflective of the science/religion debate
on a larger scale.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 09:43:11 -0800
From: Adrian Teo <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
To: "'Lucy Masters'" <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
<email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
If you are able to set your email software to use html instead of text,
you can get the colors I have.
From: Lucy Masters [ mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 3:50 PM
To: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]
Adrian: I love your email system and wish I could "do" colors the way
you do. But I can't (to differentiate my responses), so I'll have to
just bundle everything up here.
(1) I don't have a problem arguing that human death is **NOT** evil.
Ask some of our patients who are stuck in hospital beds in severe pain
or stuck in wheelchairs paralyzed from the neck down - sometimes even
worse than that. To them, death would be the greatest of God's
[AT] If I understand you correctly, the logical implication is that
some lives are just not worth living. Christians, since the earliest
days have accepted suffering as part of living in obedience, and many
have even embraced suffering as a sure road to sanctification. God
describes Himself as LIFE itself, not a God of the dead. I honestly
don't see how one can reconcile this belief that death is not evil with
the work of Christ. He came that we may have life, that death, the last
enemy, would be conquered. If it is in fact true that there are some
types of lives that are not worth living, then I guess we have to say
that people who are downright miserable have a right to end their own
lives, and we should not interfere, and that God is even pleased with
people doing such acts. To me, this doesn't seem to be consistent with
the Gospel message.
(2) Unfortunately, death rates do not go up as populations expand.
This is how we ended up with 6.5 billion people on the planet.
[AT] Let me clarify. Number of deaths will go up as population
increases, but just not at the same rate as population growth. So, yes,
we would expect to see more people dying just because there are more
people around. Another thing is that we cannot be sure if the increase
in mortality rate is due to external intervention or some other factors.
One cannot infer causation from a correlation.
(3) Yes..we can and did predict outcomes. The United Nations is chock
full of thousands of reports from numerous scientific sources
foretelling the population disaster we would create if we began feeding
programs in third world countries **in the absence of a quid pro quo.**
That is to say, in the absence of birth control. We (scientists) also
predicted the crisis that would be brought on by the mass utilization of
antibiotics, the building of the Aswan High Dam, and any number of other
interventions designed to respond to an "immediate" need.
[AT] Let's not forget political and economic forces that are at work
also. The United States alone produces enough food to feed most third
world nations over and above its own people. It is not that we have too
many lives, it is that we have too many lives that have no access to the
resources controlled by the powerful. To therefore conclude that these
lives should not have been brought about in the first place is to
misplace the problem. The problem is injustice and the lack of charity,
not the presence of lives.
(4) "Non-intervention in the face of reason" is exactly what I'm
talking about. In the name of God, Christianity, kindness, and so on,
we intervene in situations with predictable crisis-level outcomes. Now
why would we knowingly create hell on earth in the name of God?
[AT] Only in this case that you have brought up, I think it is
unreasonable not to intervene. Our call is to protect the weak and the
needy, not to decide in advance if certain types of lives are not worth
living. The right exercise of reason requires that we seek the goods of
humans, and avoid evil.
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