Monday, February 23, 2015

Religion & Science ARE Opposed

“Religion and science are opposed . . . but only in the same sense as that in which my thumb and forefinger are opposed - and between the two, one can grasp everything.”
- Sir William Bragg
Faith & reason together is what helps us to “grasp everything”. Saying “everything” may be akin to saying “all of reality” and we can think of reality as having two parts, material or physical reality and immaterial or spiritual reality.

Physical reality has certain laws like…
  • Laws of motion
  • Laws of matter
  • Laws of energy
These laws are universal and unchangeable. Not knowing, not understanding or ignoring these laws will hurt our bodies. The more we learn about, understand and adapt our life to these laws the more we can live in harmony with the world around us and be happier. In a certain sense we never really break physical laws, they break us!

Spiritual reality has certain laws like…
  • Divine Law
  • Moral Law
  • Natural Law
These laws are universal and unchangeable. Not knowing, not understanding or ignoring these laws will hurt our souls. The more we learn about, understand and adapt our life to these laws the more we can live in harmony with the world around us and be happier. In a certain sense we never really break spiritual laws, they break us!

For the strict materialist, spiritual realities do not exist, at least not like physical laws. Things like morality, justice or goodness can only exist as concepts that evolve over time and different people have different concepts about how the world ought to be. With this logic of moral relativism one cannot grasp the most important parts of reality just like one cannot grasp a football without an opposing thumb. Our concepts of right vs. wrong are tied up in something that ought to be or ought not to be. For that concept to make any sense, you actually need an “ought”!

In a worldview with no spiritual reality, we may say that a group like ISIS has a certain concept of how the world ought to be that is likely different than yours or mine or Mother Teresa’s. Their concept cannot be objectively wrong because there is nothing to make it wrong (no outside system). A compass points north because an outside system (the earth’s magnetic field) makes it point north and there is only one north, not many “norths”. It does not matter what direction a group of travelers believes is north because the magnetic field is completely independent of the minds of the travelers.

What happens if a large group of interdependent travelers refuse to use the compass? They will go “somewhere” based on their beliefs and experience about traveling.  They may split up into smaller groups, but even the smaller groups need to decide what to do. The strongest will rule eventually, whether by physical force or via other kinds of peer-pressure, coaxing or bullying. It’s the same in societies. Even for the most stubborn and independent of individuals, the strongest will rule eventually, whether it’s a dictator by physical force or just a majority via laws and lawyers.

If we convince ourselves that spiritual laws do not really exist, we will live life on our own terms as much as we can get away with. This means we cease to be truly free and alive which is how we “ought” to be. We become small souls, locked in the prison of our ego and victims of a great lie.

 This post started with a notable quote and so it will end with another:
"Growth in faith is growth in the right perception of all reality."
– Thomas Keating


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Obligation to Die

“On the morning of February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law against assisted suicide was unconstitutional. Canada now joins a small, elite group of madly progressive countries in abandoning the most fundamental principle in all of nature.” – From THIS article in Crisis Magazine

It’s an overgeneralization, but I’ve always regarded "The Culture of Death" as simply employing death as "The Final Solution" to the problem of life. Could the right to die ultimately become the obligation to die? Of course, this is just a slippery slope argument and I was once told that slippery slope arguments are automatically invalid. If I let my kids play with matches, it will lead to a fire, which will lead to property damage, and someone getting hurt, and someone dying, but this is just more nutty logic from a slippery slope.

Regardless, euthanasia could head down the following slippery slope and finally hit rock bottom via four distinct stages.

Stage 1: Voluntary – Passive
(Completely voluntary, but not applauded)
Canada joins a small group of “enlightened” countries in stage 1. This stage would have been unthinkable many years ago, but doctors may now lawfully help competent adults to kill themselves if they are terminally ill. Certainly, no one would be forced to do it, because that would be unthinkable. There should be no coercion either, since it’s such a personal choice between patients and their doctor.

Stage 2: Voluntary – Active
(Completely voluntary and encouraged)
We need to think of what is best, not only for ourselves, but for our immediate families and the common good of society. We live in a free country and no one can force you to do anything, but as a society we have an obligation to encourage what is “right” and promote the common welfare. The “right to die” can now slowly morph into the “obligation to die”.

People are still free to smoke cigarettes today, but anti-smoking campaigns, legislation and taxation have done a good job of breaking the will to smoke. The same can be done for those who insist on living for no good reason. Persistent pressure to do the “right thing” will break the will to live.

Stage 3: Mandatory – Passive
(Mostly voluntary with some exceptions)
As our population rapidly ages and the health care costs consume ever larger proportions of government budgets, at least some legislation must be considered to help reduce the source of rising healthcare cost. Laws to guide the old and terminally ill through their final stage of life and their final obligation to the society just makes sense.

Of course, such laws would be very limited in their scope and only apply to the most desperate cases. In fact, such laws are not likely to even be enforced much, like some immigration laws or gun laws today, so there is certainly no cause for alarm.

This won't hurt a bit.

Stage 4: Mandatory – Active
(Mostly required with some exceptions)
Physician assisted suicide need not be limited to only desperate pain. The very old, very sick and severely physically or mentally handicapped should all be considered for legal and mandatory euthanization once the quality of life has been properly assessed by professionals.
Again, we must be mindful of the common good and do the “right thing” no matter how difficult it may seem. Why allow these poor people to suffer for no reason, even if they choose to suffer. Those in favor of such legislation will be called progressively “pro-health”. Those opposed will be said to have radical “anti-health” agenda.

We have been watering down the meaning and dignity of human life for decades and the stages above could take many decades more, but a slippery slope need not be as fast as the metaphor implies. A lava flow can be slower than 1km/hour, but will destroy everything in its path.