Tuesday, 27 May 2008

'Rumours' from Rome

Although I never read the vile rag ; Fr Mildew informs us that [wait for it , have to get my crucifix and Holy water and garlic before I type the name] The Tablet [shudder! Now I really need a shower] and its 'rumour-monger from Rome' ; the screaming diva Bobbie Mickens; is suggesting George Bush may consider becoming a catholic !!!

Stopped laughing yet ?

Well miracles do happen !

And there's more chance of George Bush becoming a catholic than Mr Mickens !!!!

New Catholic Truth Society Website

Haven't looked at it yet; but thought I'd better help spread the word. [h/t Oliver Hayes]


More heat than light...

{Never knowing when to shut up, I jump headfirst into a little discussion amongst a few smug mutual back-patters on the Holy Smoke blog regarding the varying considerations of the child in the womb - the usual 'it's a blob for the first few months; and can be treated accordingly' bilge. There was also a snide aside regarding our 'gnosticism' regarding when ensoulment occurs. Unable to sleep [overtired - long story] : I started to type.}

I wish you'd stop presuming what catholics believe - we have absolutely no idea what a soul is except that it exists - we have no idea if there is a process called ensoulment at all [i.e. whether it is intrinsic to the material form by its being held in being by the Holy Spirit or if it is an external interaction] - we don't have to know in order to believe in its essential validity - the 'what' and 'how' we leave to Divine Mystery. I could still push you down the stairs without knowing Newton's laws of motion, I could slap you without knowing anything about quantum theory, electrostatics or neurons.

Ok here's my question :
Let's remove the whole 'human life in potential' argument from the equation and ask :

When in human development is it concretely valid to determine and classify the embryo/foetus as 'not a person' ?

Well you've probably all seen intra-uterine photos of 12 week old foetuses who look almost identical to sleeping infants - so I don't suppose any of you will use 'looking human' as a determinant;

what about intelligence ?
we already use that criterion to switch off the severely brain-damaged's ventilators ; and if the vital organs function we'll dehydrate them and starve them [it's a mercy isn't it ? nobody would wish to live like that would they ? anyway it's all perfectly legal since Jamie Bland] The same goes with abortion of the brain-damged foetus [a blessing - beter off not to be born and suffer]
yes, Intelligence seems an adequate determinant for 'personhood'.

well you might not like to know when we are at our most intelligent - the time when a human has the highest amount of active and interactive neurons and is at its optimum learning capacity with the highest IQ it will ever accrue - is seven months after conception !
You may be aware that before 22 weeks a foetus's brain has yet to develop folds in order to increase its mental capacity - what you may not be aware of is that even at this stage the foetus has the intelligence and learning ability of a seven year old child ! regress further week by week and you'll discover that a significant amount of foetal abortions happen to human beings of an intelligence quotient equivalent to ourselves and greater than any adult primate or cetacean [for whom we have so much sympathy] could ever achieve! we need to travel many many weeks further back to arrive at an 'insignificant' level of even human intelligence, let alone the animals we treat with 'human-like' sensibilities.

Do any of you remember that bitterly ironic day when the Liberal democrat party voted for the motion proposing abortion on demand and subsequently voted for the banning of the use of goldfish as fairground prizes on the grounds of cruelty ? who says evolution and civilization isn't a wonderful thing ?

Ok what about walking away from the brain thing and see what the biologists and geneticists say. How about working out the life-cycle of the human being and discerning how brief this embryonic development is in the totality of human development ? nine months versus three score years and ten - surely this will prove something.
Well ! If you remove the temporal length of stages one discovers that our life is more redolent of a mayfly than we'd believe. Out of the 41 stages in the human cell-life cycle we undergo 37 of them in the womb. If one accepts that past half-way is nearer the whole , technically the embryo is long past middle aged before its mother knows she's pregnant !

what about the foetus/embryo feeling pain ?
it's illegal to inflict pain on sentient animals; I kick a cat and I could end up in prison - some think it's barbaric to kill a spider and not humanely dispose of it in some other way.

Well the developing neural cortex attaches to the developing brain stem at 17 days after conception - the embryo certainly feels pain from that point - but is it aware of it ?

Maybe we should move onto sentience ?
there must be a time during human development where there is no self-awareness whatsoever - maybe embryology will give us an answer - then the abortion debate may become clearer - even if the embryo is undergoing a painful death surely not being aware of it or actually 'experiencing it' with self-awareness, cognition, memory etc might make it tenable to consider this as the killing of a non-person ?

Surely sentience and higher brain function, the ability to express oneself, portray emotion ,dream etc can't happen until well into pregnancy , maybe the last few weeks ? or even the last few months ? possibly it begins around or before the abortion limit of 24 weeks ? maybe slightly before but surely not earlier than say 18-20 weeks ?

Ooops !
it's impossible to determine when it actuates, but the mechanism for its functions cannot preclude its absolute absence; so we must be willing to face the possibility that it occurs at the beginning of the organ's development - when it goes online as it were:

Well guess what !
during the fourth week of development after conception the heart starts beating, blood starts to flow around the body to and from the yolk sac, buds start to turn into hands, the eyes are developing lenses....and
the brain divides into five separate vesicles : one of these is the telencephalon !
what's that ?
only the beginnings of the cerebral cortex [controlling memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness]
and the basal ganglia [controlling motor control, cognition, emotions, and learning].

In other words it is impossible to determine if any of these functions have not commenced by this developmental stage. No matter how ill-formed or 'embryonic' - it is still present and potentially as active as every other aspect of the embryo.
Yes, less than a month !

and it gets even worse for the pro-choicer

In order for the brain vesicles and especially the telencephalon to form and function it requires morphological and molecular transient 'segments' known as neuromeres.

These neuromeres are already functioning in order to combine and differentiate and form a co-ordinate system.

These neuromeres - the spark of our whole psyche, awareness , intelligence, will - all that makes us a 'person'....

[wait for it]

...begin to develop on the 18th day after conception.

What am I saying ?
am I daring to make the ludicrous, preposterous suggestion that this lump of cells is self-aware, sentient and capable of the minutest form of cognitive function with a direct purpose and even a determined will towards actuating an end other than a simple form of chemical processes genetically engineered by its DNA ?

Well guess what ?
I'm going further and beyond this !

What's all this massive fascination with stem cells ?
why are they the new miracle on the block ?
why are they almost treated like some magical elixir that can solve all the world's medical ills ?

it's not so much what they do ; it's what they are !
they function beyond what we would seem credible to our common sense - to the point that we may feel compelled to call them miraculous or magical !

Go back a week or so and cut the cells which would form the embryo's head off above the forming notochord - well that which is destined to ultimately become a head - and flush it down the sluice !
then take the bunch of cells which are already developing into a proto-form of the lower body and place it where the head should have been.

what happens ?
a head develops - fully functioning brain etc - full kit and kaboodle.
In other words there's a self-directing entelechy within the organism itself external to the genetic code [whether it's controlled by nucleic acid concentrations pre-determined by the genetic code makes little difference - the self-directing motivation is now inherant within the organism]

this entelechy aims itself towards self-preservation and development to the point of self-repair and redirecting itself [changing legs into a head to replace a lost one - love to see Paul Daniels try that one!]

even if it's all basic biochemistry we're talking about an entity which from the very start is not developing into something which will eventually develop self-preserving , self-regulating and self-directing attributes - it already possesses them to the extent that within the first few weeks it's not the amorphous blob as insignificant as an amoeba , nor is it something many months away from brain function, self-awareness, cognition, emotion ; rather once it enters the foetal stage it's barely a month away from smiling, dreaming, mnetically reacting differently to varying sounds and sucking its thumb - all within twelve weeks - half the abortion limit !
Is it a person at twelve weeks ?
when wasn't it before this ?
want me to go through it all again ?
we simply cannot tell !!!!

there's no embryologist who can irrefutably claim that thought [no matter how primitive or merely motor-regulating] does not possibly commence as early as the 18th day after conception when those microscopic neuromeres emerge - and who knows what processes led to this and when they began ?

we're never dealing with a mere blob...

All this available information - and it doesn't alter catholic principles one iota; because we have fundamental moral principles that Life [however potential and requiring all manner of necessary things to become all it is designed to be] commences at conception ; because from that moment we can never know what wonders may be wrought within the womb and beyond in that entity's regard.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Have you been watching ?

My whole family's been hooked on this year's Apprentice.
We're utterly bemused by Sir Alan Sugar's discernment.
What is he playing at ?
Episode 1 - spoilt brat Alex; who claims all the ability and accolades but never takes any responsibility ; completely screws up a fish-selling task - by blaming the posh young toff for all his mistakes - the poor naiive deluded lawyer goes while Alex sails through the next 8 weeks.

Episode 2 - Confirmed just how deceitful and incompetent Jenny was - but who goes ? The only woman who took any responsibility for the Laundry task . Sir Alan you committed as severe error in judgment - Shazia could have made a great Apprentice.

Episode 3 - Ian [not the brightest or most capable] was tucked up completely by the most useless , arrogant and deluded candidate ever - Kevin ! did Kevin go - No , poor Ian went.

Episode 4 - Poor Simon was let down appallingly by his team - Alex and Jenny lied, Claire treated him like dirt ; but the wrong team won the task - Helene should have gone for the despicable way she treated Lucinda - A wrong firing again !

Episode 5 - Lindy went , but Claire's team was utterly inept and deserved to lose. Claire should have gone for being a terrible task leader and spending all her time drinking cider.

Episode 6 - At last - Kevin went !! Sir Alan made the first right decision of the series. Lee's treatment of Sara, Alex's tantrum - pair of them should have been thrown off the series - Raef and Lucinda came to Sara's defence - heroes !

Episode 7 - Phenomenal !! I would have sacked all 5 of them.

Episode 8 - They'd had it in for Sara for weeks [I'd have sacked Jenny, Lee and Alex for that fiasco back at the house where they bullied Sara because of Kevin's deserved firing] Both Michael and Helene should have gone.

Episode 9 - the biggest travesty of the series - wunderkind Raef - who'd won the tasks most of the weeks previously through his initiative [laundry, singles cards, top range wedding dresses, the best buy calf-skin etc] entered into the firing line and Sir Alan jumped at the opportunity. How Alex and Michael escaped again is beyond me - alex proved himself to be the most inane and talentless individual under the sun with that advert. Utterly unfair - Raef, like Shazia; could have easily won.


...so who's left ?

Out of them all the only credible candidate is Lucinda ; and it looks like tomorrow night she is doomed after being abandoned by Dumb and Dumber [Alex & Lee] she attempts to rent out a Zonda ; unaware that it's an Aston Martin - It looks like she's heading for the chopping block ! A great shame, but tomorrow night Nicky, the kids and I will be devastated if she goes !!!

Proud of My Kids...

I don't suppose many of you have read Anthony Burgess's 'Unearthly Powers' ?
Well the ending has an earth-shattering most bitterly ironic revelation that challenges us to our very core.
Catholicism has an intrinsic fundamental ethical stance : Let the universe perish around us ; But God's will be done !!!
Doing the right thing irrespective of the consequences, whatever the price...however detrimental it is to ourselves and perhaps those we love.

My children have been recently reading the 'Death Note' manga and watching the anime on the internet . When this finished they moved on to watching the excellent 'Monster'.
Individually they kept the big secret ethical dilemma surrounding the first few episodes from their siblings ; and I asked each one in turn : 'Did the Doctor do the right thing ?'

The three all replied that : 'Yes. He did the right thing !'
This made my heart leap - despite all the secular influences and my being a particularly bad catholic ; they still knew what was right...

Maybe you'd want to try yourself out with the same question ?
If you have 40 minutes or so to waste ; take a look - for a cartoon it's really quite good [Better than anything on ITV recently]!

Either follow the links on youtube for the next part ; or if you enjoy it the whole 71 episodes can be found at 66stage.com

More of my rants from 'Holy Smoke'

{We were in the middle of arguing on Holy Smoke Blog regarding the HFE bill - and a few had referred to common sense science [which they equivocated with natural law] as being the source of our morality. I felt compelled to warn them of the inherant dangers within this stance; in that when the science crumbles; so too does the ethical reliance upon it}

I'm not speaking as some amateur who's read a few websites - I was compelled to read and research extensively for my double-thesis for Ethics on when Life begins :
Be very , very careful what you mean when you say life begins at conception ; ensure that you have your philosophical and ontological grounding as the first principle - the unique essence in potential which if no direct external force is applied it is internally directed [even if incapable of actuating it] towards becoming a human being ;
that this is the only tenable point in time when one cannot equivocate away this internal directing force.

This may seem ridiculous but you'd be amazed at the way Pope John Paul II's teaching of 'ensoulment at conception' was diretly turned against him by biologists and ethicists :

a] Ever wondered why there is a 14 day limit on embryo experimentation ? You'd be stunned at the answer - and utterly astounded that Baroness Warnock was considered a great intellect at the time.
14 days is deemed the time when it can be determined visually if there is either one or more embryos [twinning or recombination].
Therefore as it cannot be shown that there is either one or more it is impossible to say that 'ensoulment' [or unique psycho-personal individuation] occurs before this time.
i.e. Because you cannot tell under a microscope whether it's a single embryo or twins + ; it's morally acceptable to experiment on them before this time - because if there is such a thing as ensoulment it must occur after this !!!
Insane ? Most assuredly - but that's the grounds for the law of this land !
But supposing some pro-choice person was to corner you with this hypothetical:
Identical Twins - a fertilised embryo splits in two, now was there one individual who became two replicas, or one individual who suddenly had an adjacent replica, or one individual who perished and became two new entities, or one individual divided between the two entities ? How do you apply individuality and ensoulment in this regard ? head spinning yet ?
This is what happens when you try and rely on tenuous scientific support without reasoning the principles through first.

b] There are problems with 'conception' per se in that it isn't as cut and dried as everyone presumes.
Beware of stating the 'presumed case' because others may fallaciously attempt to destroy your case by applying exigent facts which don't disprove the philosophical case but they do hack away at the groundwork when one unnecessarily over-relies on the science.

For a start regularly more than one sperm penetrates the ovum - and in order to ensure genome integrity all other genetic material must be expelled from the ovum - evolution has made provisions for this and ensured that the actual genetic integration between the sperm and ova to form a zygote occurs between 24 and 48 hours after sperm penetration.

Next you have to worry about the 'Germaine Greer fallacy' - that of the fact that we do not know why around 30% of all fertilised concepti do not implant and are ejected [ you'll hear a lot of pro-choicers double this figure ; but there are many decent research papers out there which confirm the c.1/3 figure] - assuredly some are genetically defective [blighted ova] and would never develop so are expelled as an expediency for further potential to conceive - but regarding a significant percentage of those 'spontaneously' expelled they do not appear to be defective - we have no idea why this 'natural abortion' occurs.
Consequently you have the quite offensive and specious corollary of Germaine Greer that according to catholic sentiments regarding conception a priest should be holding requiem masses for sanitary towels.

You'll also hear of pro-choicers speaking of hydatidiform moles and choriocarcinoma as a [fallacious] substantive proof that sperm and egg do not axiomatically mean life ; therefore one can do what one wishes with all fertilised ova.
Pro-choicers equivocate the 'necessary' condition of fertilisation as being invalid by its 'insufficiency' - which is as logical as saying dynamite isn't explosive because the fuse sometimes fizzles out.

Then there's the implantation fallacy - one that's even used by reprehensible liberal catholics to justify the use of iuds, the morning after pill and even the contraceptive pill itself.
the idea is one of the fertilised embryo 'interfacing' with the mother - implanting and transmitting signals for the production of hormones triggering subsequent development of the four [misnomered] 'foetal membranes' .
The seed not being a real seed unless it's in the soil.
The embryo not being alive until it's implanted.
Imagine this notion as the tree falling in the woods not making a noise if there's no-one to hear it - grossly ridiculous epistemology deriving its justification from bastardised enlightenment idealism - you'll see the same fallacious reasoning all over the place - something doesn't exist until it makes its presence known ! Aristotle is spinning in his grave.

c] The nucleic acid problem .

I've already mentioned when fertilised an embryo can split into twins,triplets etc and this allows arguments condemning the notion of ensoulment.
does each twin get half a soul, or does an extra soul pop up or descend from heaven ; and what happens to the second soul if recombination [a regular risk in IVF] occurs ? does one human being contain two souls or does the soul vanish ?

but lets go all frankenstein - supposing we separated the embryo up cell by cell at an early stage and implant this genome into irradiated ova - thus producing dozens of siblings - does the multicell embryo contain one soul per cell in order to ensure each of these new embryos is ensouled or do these souls pop into existence when the new embryo is formed - if so what happens to the original soul ?

yes, this is obscene speculation - but it's all grounded in that single comment of His Holiness of blessed memory...get my point ?

let's go to the ultimate proposition - every cell in one's body could potentially produce a clone - supposing in a nightmare future billions of clones were made from a single human - from where would their souls derive unless the soul was not inherant within each and every cell ?

utterly ridiclous of course - alien and anathema to all we were trying to morally and ontologically defend within the unique individual deriving from conception who must be afforded all the rights and dignity as an entity which is directed towards a fully fledged living human being and person external from the womb - and be deemed as essentially human life without exception ; irrespective of the accidental consequences occurring to it which may not allow this to be completed.

what is a soul ?
how are we ensouled ?
are we even ensouled or is the process even more spiritually and supernaturally mysterious ?

We don't know !
Therefore we must always as a moral categorical imperative err on presumptive caution that irrespective of any scientific or metaphysical speculation - the conceptus is axiomatically a unique aspect of creation to its fullest extent which includes being created in God's image to its fullest extent regarding its possession of a soul.

We must NEVER transgress this principle by conspiring with presumed corollaries or corroborating scientific evidence which seem to justify our ontological and moral principles - it's building a house on sand; and sadly this is what Pope John Paul II, in all innocence and wondrous faith in the divine; inadvertently became embroiled in; by allowing his statements regarding our faith to be analysed out of context as scientific phenomena.

Yet again all I'm saying is beware
Rely on our fundamental moral principles and construct one's arguments accordingly - not on presumed scientific phenomena which seem to vindicate it.

{ A few responded [another e-mailed me] , implying I was speaking detrimentally of Pope John Paul II , who was highly educated with two doctorates yet never claimed to be an expert [they presumed I was claiming I was, although I never even implied it] on the issue so took advice from the experts - one in paticular referred to anyone wishing to know more on the subject should consult the Linacre.org site . This led to my response :}

...I made no reference to evangelium vitae or questioned its moral integrity or its potential contrariety with scientific evidence ; nor did I anywhere make any counterclaims regarding ensoulment or the validity of Pope John Paul II's statement.
I was referring to those who cling to these 'soundbites' and infer a great deal more to the point of hyperbolic construction of a principle grounded upon it - it's how every ideology begins.

I would never claim this was His Holiness' rationale; but I know there are a great deal of people out there who presume certain things grounded in these presumed 'factoids' and formulate their ethical stances accordingly - and the moment science appears to compromise or jeapordise that morality 'built on sand' it collapses. The moment we stopped arguing on our terms and attempted to take the fight to them on their ground - we were sunk.

Spend a decade arguing with pro-choice 'christians' who ground their morality on obfuscatory pro-choice propaganda built from mendacious embryological "old wives' tales" and you'll see where I'm coming from.

I didn't claim to be an expert on the subject ; but I am highly experienced in the argumentation on the subject - I have only a meaningless pseudo-honorary doctorate in logic ; but did spend nine years studying and researching life ethics at third level education - intimating I was blowing my own trumpet or fallaciously appealing to authority was below the belt.

I didn't go on an all-out assault on the warnock report because it would take weeks of typing just to scratch the surface of the travesty - I merely referred to one of its most outrageously irrational conclusions.

Nor would I refer anyone to the Linacre site as a primary resource for ethical instruction - because it isn't ! It's there to inform and relay principles and the arguments which flow from them - were the uninformed to refer to the articles without recourse to a fundamental catholic moral theological instruction regarding our basic moral principles - confusion would arise ; especially when contrary hypotheticals or opinions of past Church fathers and saints are made without qualification [because a reader's awareness of the catholic position is regularly presumed by the author].

If you think I'm being specious please allow me to take one example from Helen Watt's article on pre-implantation diagnosis.
Within it she assumes [I contend she presumes] [for argument's sake] that the entity before twinning is destroyed completely and the twins formed are entirely new entities.
Understand so far ? whether one agrees or not or simply has no idea isn't that important [however metaphysically earth-shattering]; but that which follows IS important:

"If, on the other hand, the conceptus does not have developmental potential in any environment, then it is not a human embryo, and not a human being."

She then proceeds further along this line of development 'as act' as being of axiomatic mandatory import.

Notice the far from subtle danger in all this ?
Consider the phenomena of spontaneous abortion of the apparently non-defective embryo ? Or for that matter the defective.

Extrapolate this to congenital or developmental defects within the embryo or foetus which make its viability impossible - travel farther along this line of argument and consider anencephalic foetuses .

Is Ms Watts implying that only that which develops or maintains the potential to develop is solely human ?
[Notice the affinity with the seed/soil corollary I mentioned earlier ?]

It would appear so ; and if she was it would be utterly contrary to catholic moral teaching [inherant since the Didache, but absolute since Pius IX] regarding the embryo from conception ; irrespective of its implantation or its spontaneous abortion - it possesses a full share of human dignity and authenticity in what von Balthasar and Benedict XVI refer to as 'a democracy of essence'.

But more than likely this statement was a mere oversight , never intended to be considered on its own ; but as an exigent aside to the main thrust of the argument relating to the dignity of pre-implantation embryos by clinicians.

Inadvertently in attempting to argue one case , she takes a little less care in qualifying her side-points and lets slip through an argument which if taken out of context could destroy everything she is attempting to argue.
Normatively this wouldn't matter one jot ; because the informed reader would immediately overlook the potential unintended consequences and see it solely in the light for which it was intended.

But let's supposing someone slightly less informed of the catholic principles were to read the article ?
and they had suffered miscarriages of embryos who through an internal fault would never reach full term ; or bore an anencephalic foetus ; and then read that comment ?
They would presume Ms Watts was saying their child was never a human being !
Or suppose a secular biologist directly seeking ethical loopholes to dismiss or destroy catholic principles as contradictory, irrational, fallacious or contrary to scientific evidence - caught sight of this sentence ?
Imagine what a Dawkins or Robert Winston would do with this nugget ?

Are we so presumptuous to conclude that 'blighted ova' which would never develop into embryos past the zygote or blastocyst stage aren't fully fledged souls in Heaven when we have no idea what's in the mind of God or His providential will ?
We must always err on the side of caution [as Ms Watts wondrously concludes elsewhere] ; and maintain that prime moral principle of Human Life from conception as a categorical imperative ; we dare not consider anything else without the potential of contravening God's will.

Do you now see what I'm saying ?
I'm not talking about the ethics of an issue ; I'm talking about how to argue from our Ethical standpoint; not inadvertently ,as Chesterton puts it, 'thinking backwards'.
The late, great Fr Robert Noonan [OFM [cap]] declared that regarding catholic morality - "lest ye become like little children" is the most crucial of scriptural considerations.
Sure we must be as cunning as serpents and exercise the graces of our intellect and wisdom to their fullest extent ; but the principles intrinsically bear an innocence ,and adamantine simplicity of Truth [devoid of gnostic mystagoguery and obfuscatory complexity] Truth - the Person of Christ.

Human Life is Sacred - a gift from God.
Human Lovemaking is a gift from God in which we share in God's life and love [it invokes inseparable unitive and procreative aspects].
Human life begins at conception.

Three principles : with due concern to Original Sin tell me a single ethical argument pertaining to life and sexuality to which these cannot be applied; and in doing so manifest the totality of the catholic position.
Simple in context: Profound beyond our human consideration in discernment and deliberation - Divine Mystery.
Apply these fundamental principles and we have the promises of Christ given to Holy Mother Church that we cannot err.

When we attempt to argue outside this remit in any other way using any other grounds we are prone to failure ; and have our own arguments turned against us.

{Of course this led to arguments that I automatically alienate atheist pro-lifers by including God in the Catholic Fundamental Moral theological principles for Life and Human Sexuality}

You misunderstand the point of first principles.
You presume they must be the lowest common denominator, the most watered-down which the greater amount can agree upon.
You expect us to remove God from the equation ; this would axiomatically introduce a hidden agenda on our part; and a diminution of the principle; others may agree with the inviolability of human life from conception to grave [or somehwere in-between] ; but their reasoning could be grounded on all manner of reasons and beliefs which may either have a remote affinity or a contrariety with our position.
Natural law is a consequence and support for our theodicy ; not a criterion for it.

{he claimed he didn't misunderstand ; and that it was quite obvious I was on a hiding to nothing and participating in a 'dialogue of the deaf' by making God a mandatory element [I didn't] for a pro-Life position }

But you are misunderstanding !
...and to be frank , you're also being quite specious: Why should extra principles alienate and exclude those with similar sentiments and principles who have no theistic grounds for them ? My enemy's enemy dude.
You also refuse to acknowledge what I said in regard to first principles : excision from them does not make them simpler [e.g. 'even if there were no God our existential authentic human identity includes respect for every living individual; refusing to use them as a means to an end and considering their life inviolable'] - reductionism is not retrogressive re-grounding or simplification - that's known as Ockham's fallacy.
Your 'solely' misunderstands the holistic dissemination nature of intrinsic consequential predication - the A-B-C synthesis may preclude A-B for some; but not necessarily B-C ; or even the A--C for others.

{Of course it didn't do any good - there are those among us who think having God in the equation axiomatically invalidates the integrity or congruency of the argument. Consequently in order for them to 'get on board' we have to throw out our underlying principles . All too sad.}

Cardinal Kasper tells anglicans to get off the fence and decide who they are....Here's my response.

{Taken from my comments on Holy Smoke Blog }

I'm sorry but choice regarding belief is a modern fallacy: One either believes or one does not - the belief may alter after grace/revelation/discernment ; but choosing ? The option is neither tenable nor ontologically coherent.

When women were 'ordained' in the church of England His Holiness of blessed memory John Paul II allowed all and sundry of their flock into the fold of Holy Mother Church ; with not enough concern regarding their beliefs - we need only refer to the 'convert' clergy who remained most definitely anglican - whether it be of the preening camp doyly wearing High Church who think Catholicism is part neo-Jacobite 'grand tour', part E.M. Forster ; all wrapped up in the trimmings of Merrie Englande's Pugin, Morris and Inspector Morse ! ;
...or the liberal slap-dash misogynistic cafeteria-types who think that Rome is merely a 'flavour' of the same thing ; with excess dogmatic exigents one can excise from believing at whim.

I loved Cardinal Kasper's writing style in his evangelical pop-theology books ; they're perfect as an introduction for the discerning layperson or even seminarian; but one has to admit he most definitely went off the rails in his comments on the salvation of Jews for maintaining their 'covenant' [without] accepting Christ [ yes I know, he didn't say that but he allowed too many to interpret his words that way] ; and here His Eminence makes the same categorical error - asking people to choose what they believe - and these days who the hell knows what anglicans believe ? No two are the same ; belief in God seems to be an optional extra for some of them !

Sure let anglicans become a congruent entity ; let those who find Rome unacceptable state it and stop in the pretence of calling themselves catholic when they deny everything it stands for; let those who , for all manner of ludicrous reasons , believe everything Holy Mother Church teaches but have not yet crossed the Tiber, return to the fold.

But it would be a grievous scandal for those who did not believe [think the Blair incident here] proclaiming one thing before God and his neighbour while believing quite the contrary within.

There's one thing we seem to be reticent to approach -the anglican's reception into the catholic communion and thus being reunited with their baptismal vows:
How many truly with integrity, sincerity and authenticity ; affirmed in accordance with the doctrine of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ; that what they previously belonged to was neither Christian nor a Church ; but merely a man-made , misguided , sacrilegious, heretical cult ???

{after a few posts someone said they disagreed with me ; and that any sincere conversion was beneficial to Holy Mother Church...}

I'm sorry but where is this disagreement ?
I'm a catholic who wishes everyone to convert - that's part of my Baptismal responsibility !
But we've enough half-baked catholics [little more than enthusiastic pagans] within the Church already and if we have an influx of anglican 'clerics' who feel they should axiomatically be ordained as catholic deacons/priests - a severe problem arises when their priestly/clerical training revolves round a few weeks of courses and interviews at a local seminary or religious institute because they already have a divinity degree !

Certainly we have had wonderful converts ;although many would disagree with me , in my eyes the most profound conversion in England was Chesterton's - not Newman's : The saintly Newman was a romanized anglican of the tradition Aidan Nicholls lauds and wishes to promote as a new English renaissance; whereas Chesterton was so Catholic he made us Catholics more Catholic within.
Some of the best catholics are converts ; but so too are some of the most hyper-maniacal pietistic ones who ; and sadly there are more than a few converts who seek to belong to every clique, inner ring and committee with an to make their local brand of 'catholicism' shape their own image and vision.

Some think SSPX is too modernist and anyone who doesn't wear at least four hair shirts and 17 scapulars and pray hourly to the blessed Juanita Chiquita Rosita Bonita Gomez for all those poor souls sent to purgatory for wearing skirts above the ankle ; are little less than satanists !
Whereas others think that 'real' catholicism is lentil tofu casseroles, saving the planet by only flushing solids, spending hours boring everyone recounting their personal life journey in the spirit and holding someone's hand while sitting on a beanbag and listening to the latest yogic chant based on the speeces of nelson mandela.

Conversion brings out the fervour in people; but if there isn't the necessary humility or understanding behind the professed faith, it can easily develop into a fascistic ideology of either extreme - the Torquemada or the Timothy Leary.

So sure, come one, come all - but for crying out loud will the Church of England and Wales get off their backsides and reform catholic instruction beyond the reprehensible and scandalous RCIA programmes .
Sure we want catholics - but ones who know what they're 'signing up for' would help us all....

Well what did we expect ?

Yes I'm back....

Maybe I'll refer to the past few weeks as I go on ; but in the meantime last week was a devastating blow upon the nation and humanity as a whole.
The HFE act had nothing Human about it, it had little to do with fertility and when it came to embryology it defied all evidence and reason and opened the floodgates for the furtherance in the systemic genocide....
It merely confirmed a few things we'd always known - the liberal intelligentsia have now decreed a father is surplus to requirement [my children's school has already banned the use of 'mum and dad' when teachers speak to pupils] , that multiple siblings can be produced in a lab and only the one most suitable to provide spare body parts for their sick brother or sister will be implanted ; the rest are sluiced away; and that it is perfectly 'un-frankenstein-like' to create thousands of diseased human embryos within irradiated animal eggs in order to analyse, dissect and destroy in the name of a research system which has not provided any beneficial results whatsoever.

It also re-assured us that our suspicions were not paranoic when we presumed that the pro-choicers were intent on universal abortion on demand up to birth and beyond with virtually no concern to the sensibilities of the foetus [did you see Dawn Primarolo screaming on TV that pro-lifers were evil and promoting vile untrue propaganda] - It confirmed that the argument for viability was the mendacious sham we always knew it to be ; that David Steel was always a duplicitous bastard who always denied he was seeking abortion on demand but forty years after the event after millions have perished it just doesn't seem enough to him; no, already thousands use abortion as a form of late 'contraception' oblivious to the consequences ; as if they were going for a legwax.

I'm sick of hearing about the choice being a tough decision - a crisis of conscience where different demands are tugging different ways ; and the mother's psyche is left fraught ; and society is aiming to reduce the amount of abortions by making life more financially and socially secure for women - it's a lie !
Yes there are many women who deeply regret killing their children and suffer terribly in the aftermath; these women in silence [ignored by everyone ] regret being pressurized or cornered or bullied or being ignored by professionals when expressing reticence in going through with the termination.

But society is turning abortion into such an 'irrelevance' that many thousands of women are not affected in any way ; one 'renowned' agony aunt is notorious for referring to abortion's health and beauty benefits for the young woman - problems with combination skin and acne ? get pregnant for a few weeks!!!

We catholics have a tendency to overuse the adjective 'satanic' - but how else can we categorise this ?

We're going to soon face up to the facts - the majority of people are oblivious to what happens when women enter an abortion clinic and that's the way society wants it .

Mandatory counselling - which is technically a legal requisite of the 1967 and 1990 acts; but has been ignored by every politician and medical practitioner - was proposed by a pro-choice MP last week - it was trounced !
And as for post-abortion counselling for those who require it ?
Well the feminista ideology decrees that these women who suffer depression or deep anxiety at any loss post-abortion are 'letting down the sisterhood' ! So most political commentators deny its existence and claim it's merely pro-Life propaganda.

Already we have pro-Life medical practitioners having to inform their patients and display posters in their clinics ; together with pharmacists they face disciplinary procedures if they refuse to refer patients demanding abortifacients or abortions....

Imagine how the politicians would twist it into some alleged 'misogynistic bullying' if they offered abortion counselling ? Evan Harris [Dr Death] wants every 'Life' and spuc or Winning clinic to be legally forced to give advice and information as to where and how to procure an abortion. A bit like making it compulsory for alcoholic anonymous to have a two-drink minimum bar before every meeting .

So it's left to pro-Life groups to pick up the pieces for these women's shattered lives wih counselling and support - for as long as they are legally able - Harris will get his way sooner than later...

Now I'm really quite angry at the way the pro-Life groups campaigned during all this ; but this is neither the time nor place to criticize them and their compromises or naiive trust in their own capabilities or the efficacy of their mini-campaigns. One cannot say they did not work hard ; but the price is too high for these small pressure groups to remain as such - we desperately require a national universal movement for Life run by professionals with political and media acumen.

As for the Bishop's conference ? his Eminence ? Eccleston square ? The tablet ? The national Justice and Peace groups ?
A few nice speeches, the odd pastoral letter...the rest was silence !
I think chocolate teapot would be an offensive allusion ; shameful irresponsible negligent reprobates would be an understatement.
...and when Cardinal Cormac gave his speech and said how 'disappointed' he was - please forgive me but I wanted to kick his backside all the way to beachy head [but not back]
the only MP who made any concrete reference to both her personal beliefs and her faith regarding the issues wasn't a catholic but rather a member of the DUP !!!!

In the meantime one thing is absolutely ludicrous - Claire Curtis Thomas MP is deputy chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life group ; yet she is quoted by the BBC in believing in a mother's right to choose !!!!! It's a bit like having Herod or Medea run a creche !

What planet are we on ?
Three times every two seconds ; Christ is re-crucified in the womb .
46 million lives a year -LOST - not including all those millions chemically aborted or prevented from implanting by pills, patches and iuds.
Catholics of centuries past would have taken to the streets ! Mobs would have adopted civic disobedience and a refusal to conform or participate in a government which conspired in this genocide.

These days we are so much more civilised ; we have coffee mornings and little talks from enthusiastic amateurs and car window stickers and after a few prayers we decide to write stern letters to our MPs
then we can compartmentalise it to a little night prayer and indignant outrage when a pro-choicer is on the radio or TV.

We're all so quick to promote the corporal works of mercy ;
but I sometimes wonder if we're not really 'sincere' self- deluded goats who think if we pretend and say we're sheep long enough it will be true if we hide from the truth in the shadows of ignorance.... [Mtt 25]

Mercifully we have some Bishops willing to make their voices heard [albeit AFTER the event - but would that Cardinal Cormac had said something remotely akin to the words of Bishop O'Donoghue yesterday :

A Statement from Patrick O’Donoghue, Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Listening to the second reading and debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons, I was saddened beyond measure. It has been said that the House of Commons is at its best when debating issues of conscience, but do I detect here a growing intolerance to listening to religious or ethical considerations? Again and again the justification given to experimenting on embryonic human beings or killing the unborn was an appeal to ‘science’ or ‘scientific research’ as if it were the only source of objective, rational knowledge. It seems that millennia of ethical and religious thought are lightly dismissed as subjective and discredited.

In contrast to the language of utilitarianism in the parliamentary debate that sought to justify the exploitation of the unborn for our economic and medical gain there arises in my heart the words of Scripture that speak prophetically of the dignity of the unborn child:

‘You created my inmost self,
Knit me together in my mother’s womb.
For so many marvels I thank you;
A wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.
...Your eyes could see my embryo.’ (Psalm 139:13-14, 16).

Every embryonic human person is a wonder of creation, who possesses the inherent right to realise his or her potential for creativity, love, self-sacrifice, and joy. However, our society has so cheapened and violated human life that it does not hear or understand the language of wonder about the unborn.

A dangerous myth appears to be growing that the only knowledge that can inform policy- making is scientific research. Discourse and reason are impoverished when science is used to exclude other branches of knowledge, such as reasoning based on natural law.

Not only this, but we witnessed a flawed, selective approach to science, with the House choosing to ignore the hard scientific evidence provided by adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, that proves that unethical research on embryonic human persons is unnecessary.

What we saw last week in the House of Commons was the misuse of science to justify the continued exploitation and disposal of society’s most vulnerable members – embryonic and foetal human persons.

As I understand it, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support those who promote the benefits of creating human-animal hybrids. What we witnessed in the vote allowing the creation of human-animal hybrids was a partisan act of faith that experimentation on embryos will at some distant time result in cures for Alzheimer’s, MS and other diseases.

We all hope and pray that medical science will find cures for these diseases that cause such dreadful suffering, but not at the cost of de-personalising the unborn and treating them as things to be manipulated and dissected. Compassion cannot result in the exploitation and destruction of unborn human persons. It is also a misuse of science to employ medical judgements concerning the ‘viability’ of the unborn child’s development as the only consideration that grants the most fundamental of human rights – the right to life.

It’s farcical to think that the definition of a human person depends on being able to exist on one’s own. Human life is a series of inter-related dependencies at all stages of our existence. The State has no moral right to exclude the most vulnerable stage of dependency from the legal protection granted to human life. Any State that accepts the arbitrary use of power over others is immoral. As I see it, last week’s vote in the House of Commons perpetuated the immoral use of power over the unborn.

How can it be reasonable that a 12 week old foetus is treated as an unborn child or disposed of as a thing depending on the choice of the mother? Being a person is not something granted by the choice of another, but is an inherent right dependent on the fact of existence. From the moment of conception, the unborn human being is genetically unique from his or her mother and father. The unborn child is a completely new and different living being.

The Catholic Church truly cares for the well-being of women, particularly those agonising over the decision whether to continue with a pregnancy or to have an abortion. I can only imagine that the trauma of rape or the anxiety of a mother unable to cope can feel unbearable. However, I have been told that the grief and distress that many women suffer following an abortion is also unbearable. Confronted with this suffering, we must all do more to support the work of Pro-Life groups that offer counselling and practical support to women who are considering abortion or are struggling to cope after an abortion.

In its strong stand against abortion or experimentation on embryonic human persons, the Church is not saying all who have an abortion or all those who voted for this legislation are evil. But it is the Church’s duty to constantly remind society that the act of intentionally killing the unborn embryo or child is always of itself evil.

I would like to personally thank all those Members of Parliament who tabled amendments and voted in defence of unborn human life. I call on all people of faith – Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Christian – who believe in the sanctity of unborn human life to join with the Catholic Church in redoubling their efforts in the continuing campaign for a change in these laws.
During the 19th century, slavers said black people weren’t human. They were wrong. During the 20th century, the Nazis said Jews weren’t human. They were wrong. Since 1967, the House of Commons has said the unborn are not human. They, too, are wrong.

+Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster Sunday, 25 May, 2008