The Dandelions

.. the mutual admiration and bashing society.

Debate: Human rights and religion

Posted by jingoisticbuthornydesperado on October 8, 2008

ok the debate started of like this

Anand Says:


Jingo, apologies for this belated reply (been rather occupied with work). Much like a mosquito in a nudist colony, I don’t know where to begin…….Brief snippets like these cannot begin to scratch the surface of these complex issues, and we ought really to talk more when we meet next time.

When is an embryo defined as human? Well, very simply when it is conceived. Within the zygote is an already fully programmed individuality, like eye colour etc. After all, to grow a human brain, one must be a human.

Your next statement(“If it is free unprotected sex a result of pregnancy even with sex education, then I believe it is wrong to terminate pregnancy.”) is rather curious. Why is it wrong to terminate a pregnancy in that situation and not others? What makes that act wrong? Murder, by definition is the willful termination of a human life. Period. (of course, in the case of pregnancy, the woman wouldn’t have her period). Maybe we shouldn’t call it “termination of pregnancy”, but rather “Final Solution to pregnancy”

If morality is relative, I gather that you don’t have any right to attack the Christian right. After all, by what common standard can you judge their actions? What’s wrong with discrimination? You may not like it……but are we to base our morality on your feelings?

Human rights a luxury? In that case, I guess abortion is fine, since we can arbitrarily decide who to extend rights to(pregnant women, yes, unborn fetuses, no). But who makes that decision? And why not get rid of rights for some other classes of citizens too, like homosexuals? If it’s all based on consensus, then its fine for a majority to eradicate the minority. I suppose Hitler’s only crime was losing the war.

Philosophically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with the beliefs of the Christian right. That was the point of my earlier comment. The problem is the Right has not formulated a public philosophy. As one rabbi said, Christians speak of “Justice” but they really mean “Just-us”. One of the hallmarks of true biblical faith is the fact that one has the free-will to follow one’s conscience, whether that leads you to God or away from him. Therefore, the Christian ought to agree with Voltaire when he said “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to death your right to say it”.

I could ramble on, but I think this will suffice for now. The issue of moral relativism will crop up I’m sure, and I’ll be happy to refute it then.

Let the slug-fest begin….

jingoisticbuthornydesperado says:

Anand, at which stage of the embryo or foetus do you think the being starts to have consciousness or a sense of self?


When a pregnant mother has health problems whereby it might lead to the death of either the mother, the child or both, what is the mother suppose to choose? By choosing to abort, by your definition, the mother is committing a murder. If the mother chooses to have the baby but the casualty happens to be the mum instead, the mum has now committed a ‘sin’, which is a suicide. In the worst case scenario it could end up leading to death of both, hence it will now be a combination of suicide and murder! Doesn’t a dogmatic absolutist moralist find himself in a self-perpetuating paradoxical cycle of moral dilemma? Mind you, the mum has prior knowledge of what are the HIGHLY possible consequences.

I am not attacking Christian right. Read carefully, what I have to say and what I have said before. I am merely using a ‘constructive approach’ in critisizing religious fanatism and dogmatism. D I am not against progressive practitioners. Christianity has undergone great transformation since it was founded two millenia ago. In the days of old, Galileo and Darwin had been regarded as heretic for going against the common misconceptions (as encouraged by fanatic dogmatism) that the universe DOES NOT revolve around the earth, and that the earth has much more history to it than mere 5 millenia. So if you think dogmatic absolutistism is absolutely correct, think again….. ;) In fact, capitalism which YOU ARE PART OF now has its roots to reformed chrisianity or to be more specific Calvinism. It is about accumulating and creating wealth through hardwork (while not using the wealth for own selfish purposed) to seek reassurance with God to go to heaven. You would have been a heretic yourself in the dogmatism of the middle ages. Really,  has Christianity itself been absolutist throughout its 2000 years histroy?

Just another example what harm can absolutism do: Zealots here I mean religious fanatics who are ever so bombastic with their strict aspects of interpretation of the holy script be it Bible or the Quran or anything else. In Islamic world in the past, the various interpretation of the Quran by Muslims scholars had served to limit the absolute power of Muslim monarchs or dictators, bringing to a balance and prosperous society. It is only in recent years where people start adhering to the strict form of (Wahhabism) intepretation (becoming a coded law) of the Quran where the balance is tipped in favour of Muslim dictators hence its current political conflict.

In fact it is to my believe than human rights and survival of the community is greatly interlinked and dependent on each other. Neither is completely right or completely wrong. Homosexuals deserve equal rights because they do no harm to the long term survival and welfare of the collective community. Human rights are pyramidical arrangement of (generally) self-interests for a long term survivability. The base of the pyramid is shelter and food, our fundamental instinct to survive. That is the most important of all. Yes, relatively speaking, human rights further up the pyramid is a luxury (for example freedom of speech or one’s right to what path of spiritaulity) IF AND ONLY IF we have shelter and food in our stomach. Would you think of freedom of speech when you are close to starvation? Also if you can turn back time, would you eliminate Hitler before the horrors of world war 2, for the sake of collective welfare? By doing so, aren’t you violating Hitler’s human rights?

One problem that I tend to frown upon is the individualistic nature of some religions. The relationship with the community is usually at the top of the pecking order relative to the individual relationship between the practioner and God. That is detrimental to the survivability of a community at the cost of an individual. But the problem is that usually many of these individualists fail to see is that if the community fails, there wouldn’t be any individuals at all. Can you honestly be where you are without an electrical engineer running the power station to power-up your electrical appliances or a farmer farming the food that you need for your own sustenance?

Like you, I thrive in controversy and i get adrenaline rush from the thrill.;) Be careful of what you wish for D

Feel free to contribute. Ciao

7 Responses to “Debate: Human rights and religion”

  1. Conspirama said

    Debate: Human rights and religion…

    One problem that I tend to frown upon is the individualistic nature of some religions. The relationship with the community is usually at the top of the pecking order relative to the individual relationship between the practioner and God ……

  2. Lipitor said

    The Excellent article , near by You talent if this certainly wrote You🙂 But don’t care thanked you a great deal was of interest!

  3. […] Debate: Human rights and religion […]

  4. Anand said

    The ‘sense of self’ question is a difficult one to answer. There are a number of perspectives, from philosophy and phychology. I think Freud held that the sense of self began with a construction of a body iamge – thus, the sense of self is developed outside the mother’s womb, as the infant builds a schemata from his/her inner feelings. Sensory development also then leads to a growing familiarization of his/her own body as well as awareness of others. From philosophy, Locke wrote a great deal about the conceptions of identity, inspiring, if you like, others such as Hume and Kant. But that is not central to the discussion of abortion, and the beginnings of consciousness has very little to do with the morality of abortion. The fetus that has the capacity to develop a sense of self is in fact human. When human life begins is a matter of science. Embryology textbooks I know of pin down human development at the point of fertilization.

    Regarding the issue of the mother’s health at risk, that doesn’t affect the nature of the act, namely the termination of a human life.

    I don’t know how a dogmatic absolutist moralist would react to your dilemma, because I have no idea what “dogmatic absolutist moralist” means. I’m not sure if such persons actually exist, except in the imaginations of fanatics…..liberal fanatics that is😉. Besides, your example has been debated ad-nauseam in philosophy/ethics, and really has to do with the structure of practical moral reasoning, rather than the morality of acts themselves. SO, I view this example as tangential to the fundamental discussion of abortion.

    Ok, so you’re not attacking the Christian right (I never said you were anyway). What differentiates ‘progressive practitioners’ and dogmatists? I’ll have to let you answer that, because you need to define your terms for my benefit.

    The purported conflict between the church and Galileo had precious little to do with religious teaching. Rather, it was a struggle between two world views, Aristotelian vs. Copernican. The church, as a political institution, was wedded to Greek philosophy. But the Bible, as Galileo said “teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go” .

    Besides, Galileo failed to answer the question of parallax shifts in the star’s positions as the earth orbited the sun , so one may make the case that based on the science of that day, Galileo had failed to prove heliocentricity (though I wouldn’t’ make such a case, because Galileo lacked the technology to document the shifts)

    As for Darwin, was he ever regarded as a heretic? Was evolution as a scientific hypothesis disputed by the Church? I’m referring of course to the Catholic Church, the representative Christian authority in Darwin’s day. My understanding is that the papacy had no problems with the hypothesis of changes in life forms over geological time. Pope John Paul said evolution does not create obstacles, and there are many other such statements by the Church supporting scientific inquiry.

    The Christian doctrine has not changed an iota since that itinerant Nazarene rabbi died (and was claimed by his followers to have been resurrected). As someone said, the reformation occurred when a Catholic priest discovered a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book. The priest was Luther, the book was the Bible and the doctrine was justification by faith. This represented a rejection of the practices of the Church as a political institution. The great rallying cry of the reformation was “Sola Scripture”, grounding teaching auithority in the bible. The core doctrines of Christianity as understood and articulated by every major theologian from Paul to Aquinas right down to Boenhoffer has not changed.

    The Reformers, especially the Calvisnists, defended their beliefs by referencing objective truth grounded in the person of God. In other words, the reformation necessarily had to postulate an objective standard (or dogma if you like) to answer the charges of pyrrhonism. As for the link between Calvinism and Capitalism, it has been debated at length. Weber’s work was more a study of the interaction between religious ideals and economics, and that economic activity was a byproduct of the religious ideals, NOT their goal. And for the benefit of those reading, the statement “It is about accumulating and creating wealth through hardwork (while not using the wealth for own selfish purposed) to seek reassurance with God to go to heaven” is contrary to Calvinism. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination does not say anything about seeking signs of salvation in economic prosperity or wealth in this life. If that is indeed the Calvinism that was around in the 17th century, then that represents a back-assed deviation from the writings of John Calvin. Anyway, capitalism began much earlier, in the development of European trade. In the 14th century, Florence had great banking families, engaging with traders all over Europe (In fact, the Catholic church had some dealings with these bankers). Now, the reformation probably aided the development of capitalism, especially with regards to money lending, but to say that it has its roots in calvinism is vastly overstating the case.

    Slightly low-blow here : Wasn’t your earlier statement “Human rights were created for the luxury of man. Otherwise, what is it used for?”. And then you say “Human rights are pyramidical arrangement of self-interests for a long term survivability”. Do you not agree that the word “luxury” seems to indicate an indulgence not a necessity? But then to say that it is for long term survival, which is very much a necessity, is contradictory. Of course, then you go on to say “human rights further up the pyramid is a luxury (for example freedom of speech or one’s right to what path of spirituality”, so I suppose you meant SOME human rights were luxuries, not all. My only point here is that you were being inconsistent.😉. And that my point that human rights are not arbitrary or a luxury still stands🙂

    The hierarcy of needs represents a useful way about thinking of human rights, because needs imply rights. The goal of self actualization, is a right of all human beings. Maslow himself said as much when he said human beings have a right to be human, and that gratified needs are necessary in order to be fully human and are therefore natural rights. And that’s why I’m against abortion – you deny a human being the right to life.

    More fundamentally, who decides who gets to live and die? Who decides that a class of people is a “threat to the survival and welfare of the collective community” ? My statement about Hitler(“I suppose Hitler’s only crime was losing the war”) was toungue in cheek, but is still valid : Hitler (and the german people) thought the Jews were a threat to their survival and welfare. So were homosexuals and handicaps. My question is simply, in your understanding, was he wrong? Do you have any basis of condemning his actions?

    Your rhetorical question about eliminating Hitler before the war is similar in kind to the question about aborting the child to save the mother’s life. That’ll be good for a discussion on the structure of moral reasoning, which we can tackle later.

    Since we’re talking about Christianity, let me clarify that the story of the bible is narrated within the framework of the relationship of the community and God, whether it is the Jews in the Old Testament, or the Church in the New Testament. Therefore, while the individual relationship between man and God is important, that relationship is expressed through the individual’s interaction with his fellow beings. For example, Christians are exhorted to love one another as Christ loved the individual Christian. It is not individualistic, rather highly communal. It sees the community as a living organism created by God, and just like any organism, the individual parts have to work together.

  5. jingoisticbuthornydesperado said

    Quote “Regarding the issue of the mother’s health at risk, that doesn’t affect the nature of the act, namely the termination of a human life.”

    Exactly! If it leads to the death of both, it will be a termination of TWO human lives not ONE. An act of ‘suicide’ and an act of ‘murder’, ironic isn’t it? You gloss over my point on this too simplistically.

    Cutting down your verbiage, quote “But that is not central to the discussion of abortion, and the beginnings of consciousness has very little to do with the morality of abortion. The fetus that has the capacity to develop a sense of self is in fact human.”

    What about embryo? Can it be grouped along with foetus? What about our cells? Each having same number and types of chromosomes, with the capacity to develop a sense of self (human) becomes ever greater with improving science and technology? Does that not make eating lard-laden curry comparable to abortion due to the damage it does to your heart cells that could have the propensity through technology to develop into new individuals. Yes, it is technology, it is artificial, but so is an act of pas de deux that is man-made. My point is, like embryo, your cells also have the distinct possibility with the capacity to develop a sense of self that could in fact also be human. So in fact you are now terminating millions of potential human life, however remote the possibility, just by eating lard-laden curry.

    Quote: “Besides, your example has been debated ad-nauseam in philosophy/ethics, and really has to do with the structure of practical moral reasoning, rather than the morality of acts themselves. SO, I view this example as tangential to the fundamental discussion of abortion.”

    Unfortunately, I disagree with you, the example is not tangential when mother’s life is also threatened which could potentially lead to ‘suicide’, if following strictly to the ecclesiastical doctrine. It is only tangential for people who seek to find an easy way out to avoid justifying a balanced argument in a scenario of moral contradiction, like a white lie.😉 For every action there is a reaction, my friend. The world is more complex and interconnected than a mere black and white. I don’t consider a ‘reaction’ to be tangential to what we are talking about.

    Quote: “Ok, so you’re not attacking the Christian right (I never said you were anyway). What differentiates ‘progressive practitioners’ and dogmatists? I’ll have to let you answer that, because you need to define your terms for my benefit.”

    Progressive practitioners? Let’s talk about women’s rights. Women have more rights now in the medieval past, more equal (not necessary perfect) pay, better chances in education, etc.

    Quote: “The purported conflict between the church and Galileo had precious little to do with religious teaching. Rather, it was a struggle between two world views, Aristotelian vs. Copernican. The church, as a political institution, was wedded to Greek philosophy. But the Bible, as Galileo said “teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”

    Cool, so you agree with me that religion and politics should be separated due to the chaos it causes as can be seen from Galileo example? Politics is the art of science of governance, ideally for the betterment of our welfare. The influence of religion is a matter of personal choice rather than a social ‘choice’. You do seem to agree with me when religion and politics come together, the consequences can be unsightly…. In this case, I assume that you based your decision on your Christian belief. Put aside religious bias; just consider the politics of it or the SCIENCE of governance, and as in all sciences, the use of REASONING through RATIONAL THINKING about the moral contradiction in abortion. If you use your religious belief to dictate what others should do, isn’t that an interference of religion in political governance on our welfare?

    Quote “As for Darwin, was he ever regarded as a heretic? Was evolution as a scientific hypothesis disputed by the Church? I’m referring of course to the Catholic Church, the representative Christian authority in Darwin’s day. My understanding is that the papacy had no problems with the hypothesis of changes in life forms over geological time. Pope John Paul said evolution does not create obstacles, and there are many other such statements by the Church supporting scientific inquiry.”

    Why then did the Catholic Church acknowledge that it was wrong about Darwin in his time yet stop short of making a full apology to Darwin now? This just happen a couple of days ago! Pope John Paul was being a progressive practitioner, he was humanly wise. Pope aside, strictly following the bible, how does a pair of each species of animals (including humans) coming out from sea shells that docked on a beach side sounds scientifically rational from evolutionary point of view?

    Quote: “The Christian doctrine has not changed an iota since that itinerant Nazarene rabbi died (and was claimed by his followers to have been resurrected).”

    Christian doctrine has not changed? I don’t see how animals coming out from sea shells can be in anyway at all connected to evolution if Christian doctrine has not changed…

    Human rights are can both potentially be seen as an indulgence and necessity. I don’t see the contradiction. When the right of one individual infringes the right of the survivability of a community, that is bad, and that is an onerous luxury. Let’s take an example of say Khairy. Yes he has the human rights to have access to his basic needs, that is necessary, but when he uses freedom of speech to champion racism, to divide and conquer. THAT is indulgence. That is no longer a necessity for his survival, is it? Are you that heartless to see him starve, and torture him the way Japanese do in world war two, without even wincing? If you do, then it is something I will fret greatly.😀 It is not nincompoopery inconsistency from my part, rather your part of maybe over-enthusiastically trying to portray everything in black and white.

    Philosophers themselves generally agree that western philosophers in general take a more individualistic approach while eastern philosophers take a more community approach. John Rawl himself mentions the need of constitutional democracy at the expense of majority democracy for the general welfare of a COMMUNITY.

    Your argument about Hitler is simplistically hoity-toity. If you can give me an example of how Hitler thought the Jews are jeopardising the livelihood of the German people that justifies his histrionic bellicosity, that I can present my case better. The reason I brought him into the equation is because you think human rights are absolutely bread and butter. In bringing in Hitler to exemplify that human rights are not the holy bible may have in fact slightly skewed from abortion but my primary intention was to tell you human rights are not the absolute truths.

    Quote: “… Therefore, while the individual relationship between man and God is important, that relationship is expressed through the individual’s interaction with his fellow beings.”

    I beg to differ. The reason for the dark, middle ages have sometimes been pin-pointed to the lack of curiosity of Europeans due to their excessive attention to afterlife. Each of them vying for a place in heaven through a relationship with God, at the expense of a stagnating society due to the lack of zeal and motivation in leading the lives they are actually having on earth. That changed during the Renaissance…

    Quote: “…Therefore, while the individual relationship between man and God is important, that relationship is expressed through the individual’s interaction with his fellow beings. For example, Christians are exhorted to love one another as Christ loved the individual Christian. It is not individualistic, rather highly communal. It sees the community as a living organism created by God, and just like any organism, the individual parts have to work together.”

    Again I beg to differ. Yes, they are generally much more magnanimous with people within their religious community, be it Catholics, Shiites, Sunnis, Anglicans, etc as research has shown. The community is there because they share the same spiritual interest rather than spiritual interest requiring them to be communal. In fact the existence of a community does not have to come from religion at all, it can be there by merely sharing same ideology, historical destinies or work ethics , ladidada. The sense of community is more of human nature than spiritual requirement.

  6. Madame said

    Sea shells, Jingo??? HAHAHAHA…😀

  7. crucifix said

    crucifix…

    I agree…

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