From: Lucy Masters
Sent: 2/27/2002 11:53 AM
Subject: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]]
But there are alternatives...and we seem unwilling to deal with them.
For example, when food programs first began back in the 1950s, we only
provided aid to those countries where the people agreed to participate
in birth control. I don't have the data in front of me, but if my
memory serves me correctly, we provided food aid to families where the
father agreed to a vasectomy if he had already fathered three children.
This took lots of negotiating because these families were used to having
9-13 children (with the expectation that 75% of them would die in
childhood - a common expectation in Africa in those days). We had to
convince them that our antibiotics, water treatment systems, and food
programs would keep those three children alive (which is just about the
normal number that stayed alive in a typical family). After winning
that negotiating and setting up the quid pro quo, the whole deal only
lasted a couple of years before conservative religious groups stepped in
screaming about interference in religious practices (i.e. birth control
is a sin). And so the U.S. and the United Nations both gave in and
continued the food programs without the quid pro quo. Viola! Fifth
years later we have many millions of more starving people than we would
have had with the quid pro quo.>>>
AT: Again, Lucy, it seems to me that you are putting a relative worth on
human life. Starving lives are somehow less worthy of existence than
well-fed ones. Further more, the birth control issue is an important one to
think seriously about, in the light of the fact that Christendom was
virtually unanimous in its condemnation of it for 2000 years until early in
the 20th century. If birth control is in fact an evil (which of course many
Christians today deny), then it should promoted as a means of population
control. China has a birth control policy in effect for decades, and how
effective has it been? Education is a much more effective means of
population control. When education levels go up in a population, the age of
having the first child also goes up. Statistically, this works effectively
in slowing down population growth.
<<<Further, we must understand that in many cases these people are not
literally starving to death. Yes - we do see those really horrible
cases on CNN, but in most cases the people are not starving TO DEATH.
They are malnourished. >>>
AT: Are these lives less worthy of existence?
<<<Now let's look at the blessing God gives to
malnourished women...they don't get pregnant because they don't ovulate.
(This is also why well nourished female athletes often don't ovulate -
they use up more calories than they take in). So God creates a natural
system that basically works on the principle that if there isn't enough
food to go around (as determined by the woman's caloric intake), then
the woman will not have more children. Pretty bright, huh? A well
reasoned solution offered by God.
As soon as the caloric intake increases with our food programs, these
women get pregnant - like right away. And then we have millions of
pregnant women with enough calories to get pregnant but not enough
calories to produce a really healthy and intelligent baby (because so
much of the brain mass develops in the womb). And then we also send
baby formula over which discourages women from breast feeding. And
women who don't breast feed get pregnant MUCH FASTER than women who do.
So we increase the birth rate again. And fifty years later we end up
with a country overrun with malnourished people - many of whom are
pretty low on the IQ scale as a result of poor nutrition during
AT: I think it all boils down to one's idea of how human life should be
valued. We could feed them and educate them at the same time. But it is much
cheaper to offer birth control as an alternative, which is a morally
<<<And we expect them to improve their educational systems? Fix their
economies? You must be kidding. Most of these people don't have the
physical health or the mental stamina to even begin to compete and
survive in this century. WE have created a monster - not God. If we
had followed the natural systems that God created - the scale of this
crisis would never have developed. Through natural selection, this
population would have stood a much, much greater chance of surviving
It's one giant mess created in the name of religion. Sorry - I just
cannot reconcile knee-jerk solutions with righteous Christianity.
Something is very, very wrong in the science/religion debate here.>>>
AT: Fundamentally, I am convinced that our disagreement lies in our
understanding of the value of human life. As such, I am firmly opposed to
your suggested solutions to the problem, as you would be to mine. Alas, it
appears that this fundamental disagreement means that we will always be on
opposite sides of this debate.
But realize that I do not see you as any less Christian because of this.
Misguided perhaps, but probably firmly committed to our common faith. I
guess you think the same of me. :-)
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE:
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:57:31 -0800
From: Adrian Teo <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
To: "'D. F. Siemens, Jr.'" <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [ mailto:email@example.com
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 11:52 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> ;
Subject: Re: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]
On Mon, 25 Feb 2002 10:30:22 -0800 Adrian Teo writes:
AT: I recognize that I may be misunderstanding Lucy, but as far as I can
tell, she has never accused me of that, which leads me to assume that I
Let me clarify. Your example of prostate cancer patients seems to me to
quite different in character from Lucy's. In both cases, I agree that
underlying principle (which is consequentialist) is to do the lesser
treat this as the single basic moral principle, often
without consideration for other principles that may be significant also.
your case, not treating is preferred because it minimizes the risk of
effects of treatment, and the patient in not in any immediate danger of
dying. In Lucy's case, not providing food is preferred because it
the risk of the side/unintended effects of intervention also, but the
in question are in dire need, or they will actually die of starvation.
My approach is to apply another important principle, that one can never
evil to bring about good (or to minimize a greater evil).
may not be inherently evil, but it is evil when one is well aware that
non-intervention leads to immediate, preventable harm. I cannot choose
to intervene when I see a child being attacked a knife-wielding person
because I decide that the consequence would be that both I and the child
would get stabbed. Sure, in this case, I c
ould look for alternative
interventions (like running to get help), but in Lucy's case, what are
alternatives when people are starving to death? So, in the absence of
alternative intervention options, I am obligated to work to prevent
AT: I agree with your basic principle of applying reasoned foresight and
planning ahead. But we are also required to prevent any immediate harm
befalling anyone (within our capactity of course). I can never do evil
allow preventable evil) to fulfill the moral law.
AT: I don't think I am advocating sentimentalism. My principle is not
avoidance of pain at all cost, but avoidance of evil. My disagreement
Lucy was over the issue of whether human death is evil. If it is (as I
argued), then we need to work to prevent it from occurring (if
Of course, Lucy has argued that death is not evil, which I think is
inconsistent with orthodox Christian understanding (but that is not to
that Lucy is not a Christian).
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