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Pope's man in Italy on abortion, homosexuality & Communion for the divorced & remarried.

The church should listen "without any taboo" to all arguments for married priests, for allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, and about homosexuality, according to Bishop Nunzio Galatino, the man Pope Francis hand-picked to serve as general secretary of the Italian bishops conference.

In an interview with the Florence newspaper La Nazione, Galatino said that “in the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia." (Sound familiar?) "It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing." He continued: “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”

Needless to say, that didn't go over with members of the prolife movement. As the Tablet of London reported, John Smeaton--head of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn--responded sharply: “I do identify with the person outside the abortion clinic praying their rosary, whether or not the person is expressionless.... I really don't think you would be saying, if national laws had allowed the killing of Catholic priests or Jews over the past few decades: 'In the past we have concentrated too much on the killing of Catholic priests or Jews.'"

(H/T David Gibson)

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Comments

Commenting Guidelines

 "I'm speechless."

Huh?

Ann,

Most people who think abortion is acceptable, have limits on the acceptability ... mosre people are for early abortions, when the fetus seems less like a baby, and that is when most abortions occur.  Most people who have late abortions do so for the health of the mother and aren't doing it because they are ok with killing babies.  So it's not really fair to say that pro-choice people are for killing babies.  Would it be fait to say pro-life people are ok with killing women? 

"As for “person,” it’s a legal term that like all legal terms (“proximate cause,” “preponderance of the evidence,” etc.) is inexact and subject to varying interpretations.  Except for one point on the human life continuum, any other designation of “person” along that continuum is arbitrary. What is not arbitrary and inexact is that a distinct human “other” comes into existence at the moment of conception. This other is not his/her mother and not his/her father, but a genetically unique member of our species that IMO is entitled to both moral and legal recognition. It’s one of the failures of the pro-life movement, regrettably, that it has yet to convince a majority of people about the intrinsic value of nascent human life."

John C. --

No, there are some quite servicable definitions of "person" that would preserve the legal rights of the rest of us persons.  Ethicians usually, I would say, view a "person" as the sort of animal that is capable of highter level thinking.  Some philosophers would also add "having the capacityt to choose at least some actions".  Defining person as his/her unique set of genes just makes the problem worse -- if having a certain "unique" set of genes is what makes an organism a person, then every cell in the body is a person -- and the set of genes is NOT unique.   

There's a wikipedia rticle on "Beginning of Human Personhood"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beginning_of_human_personhood

Ugh, I wouldn't even want to look at a wikipedia article on that subject. I'm sure it's a complete mess

Actually it references Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustin, and Peter Kreeft, among others.

Yeah it's actually pretty useful. Just my knee-jerk distrust for Wikipedia.

When I was young and poor, someone gave me a puppy.  I have nothing against dogs, but I didn't really want it.  I considered giving to a shelter, but it was kind of a hassle.  So I put it in a sack that was weighed down with rocks, and tossed it into Lake Michigan.  What the heck  - it wasn't a person.

As I stood there on the pier, dangling the sack over the water, with the puppy wimpering inside, a couple of passersby, realizing what was happening, begged me not to do it.  The nerve of some people who can't mind their own business.

 

Jim,

Yes, a puppy is too a person ... holy mackerel  :(  My own definition of a "person" is a living creature that feels pain, love, fear, hsppiness, that can enter into relationships, that is self-aware.  So if I was in a burning building and could only save one thing, a puppy or a frozen embryo, you can guess which I'd save.

Crystal --

I know the statistics.  I know there are in rare cases serious enough reasons to take the life of the child rather than let both mother and child die.  What aggravates me is the pro-choices who are too squeamish to admit that what they're approving is the killing of a baby.  Just look at their language -- fetuses are aborted, babies are born.

I think that the Dr. Gosnell case at least started some people seeing the gravity of approving easy-to-get abortions.  That he is going to jail for killing a surviving aborted child when he was legally safe for aborting it in the first place makes absolutely no sense whatsoever morally -- if the mother really couldn't take care of the child or it would have gravely inconvenienced her or she would have died, then, if it was right to kill it in her womb, why wouldn't it be right if she killed it *after* it was born?  Why is it wrong to kill a child in the open air but not in the womb?   

At lest Peter Singer is consistent on the subject.

 

Hi Walter. Using language like "slaughter" of fetuses makes women and doctors seem like monsters. If said women considered embryos and fetuses to be human life, that might be justifiable -- but they don't. 

 

What is your definition of a human baby or even a human life? Is it defined by DNA, cells, tissues, organs? A beating heart? Moving limbs?

 

Animals have all these things. What is the universally accepted definition of human death? It's the death of the human brain. What is the difference between a human brain and an animal brain that makes a human a human? It's the frontal cortex, where human consciousness resides. Without a frontal cortex, there is no human thought; not is there perception of pain. 

 

If death of the brain is the definition of death, then the birth of the human frontal cortex is the true inception of the human being in question. The frontal cortex doesn't begin to form until well beyond 20 weeks. 

 

Now, Catholics and evangelical Protestants believe that a human being is a human being from the moment of egg fertilization.  But this is a purely religious definition, and it's a religion not universally shared. 

 

The pro-life movement should be more aptly named the pro-criminalization movement. It seeks to impose the Catholic/Evangelical version of Sharia law on all of the women and doctors in the nation who do not share these religious beliefs and therefore make criminals of these women and doctors. I believe that this is profoundly wrong and immoral.

 

No Catholic should ever have an abortion, for any reason. But to try to impose one's personal religious beliefs on others whom one doesn't know and whose circumstances one doesn't understand and to justify it through the hurling about of outrageous language like "slaughter" is indeed an example of holier than thou and is the height of irresponsibility, as it inflicts what can be lifelong guilt and depression and promotes hatred, on many levels.

 

The affordable care act will prevent a thousand fold more abortions than all the clinic picketing in history, through its provisions for counseling, contraception, and improved economic well being, through affordable health care.

 

Leave those unfortunate  women alone. There are so many other things that you can do with your time that will be much more effective and which will not cause so much in the way of collateral damage. And please be more understanding of the point of view of those who do not share your personal religious belief that a brainless embryo is a human being.

 

Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

 

Leave those unfortunate  women alone.

Mental images always get in the way in these discussions. Larry Weisenthal sees the "unfortunate women" being harassed by demonstrators and sidewalk counselors. I've seen some unfortunate women harassed by boyfriends or parents until they are beside themselves with confusion and indecision. Abortion customers are not all the same. For many, the abortion decision is made under high pressure and in a less than serene emotional state. (Shortening the period in which abortions may be obtained, as some states have been doing, will only add to the pressure and may force more decisions to abort than there would be with time for measured discussion.)

If the only advice the customer has received is from a boyfriend who wants to play but not pay and the helpful folks at the clinic who make their living through abortion, it can't be bad if uninvolved women offer maybe a less pressured view

Dr.Larry - thanks - so well written, concise, to the point and yet - feels like a personal gospel parable.  If only the rest of us...................

Hi Tom, 

"Women as abortion customers."

and the demonization goes on and on and on.

 

"uninvolved women offer maybe a less pressured view"

Makes me think of the "crisispregnancy clinics" run by pro-life organizations to convince women not to have abortions and which give false medical information such as abortions =  breast cancer ...  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_pregnancy_center#False_medical_infor...

The title of this posting is:  Pope's man in Italy on abortion, homosexuality & Communion for the divorced & remarried.

So what are the comments about:  the usual Catholic obsession with abortion.

Any wonder why so many others just grin behind their hands when they hear the words “Catholics” and “abortion?”

I don’t.

Jim, you forgot that your girlfriend was going to break up with you because she didn't like dogs, that you were allergic and would be suffering constant rashes, that the shelter would only take the puppy after you had stayed with it for the first three months, and that none of your friends was able to take the puppy for you during those three months. You also forget that your landlord does not allow dogs and would request you to move, that you'd have to cut down on your work hours because the puppy could not stay alone for more than a few hours at a time, and that you'd have to look for a job close enough to your place that you'd be able to go walk the puppy every few hours. Also, do you know that the puppy was not actually there yet, that your friend had only given you a gift order for delivery of the puppy to your steps on the next day, and that if you could just call and tell the people that you were canceling the delivery, they'd take care of getting rid of the puppy, while if you waited until they brought it, you'd have to deal with all the trouble - with girlfriend, lodging, and job - yourself?

Fair enough, Jim McCrea. I was wondering why Bishop Galantino did not include ordination of women in his list of arguments the Church should listen to "without any taboo." Maybe it was an oversight. I hope it does not mean that things the Church has long considered grave sins are now up for debate and possible revision, sensible as that may be, but that an administrative decision founded in age-old prejudice is still beyond the pale. 

Hi, Larry,

What do you want? I tried "clients" earlier but that sounded, to me, too evenly matched. Your unfortunate woman is met by a greeter, just like at Wal-Mart. She's in, gets treatment, and she's out. Just like at the beauty parlor. "Patient" would overstate the service; "victim" would be judgmental. If you look at what I've written nothing makes the woman out as demonic.

And, Crystal, bad information from "crisis pregnancy clinics" is as much a fraud as bad information from abortion providers. Our local provider didn't tell clients there was such a thing as an ultrasound until the prolifers showed up outside with  bus and an ultrasound machine. I mean, if condemnations are going to fly for lying, then let them fly at whoever is lying, and everybody else, duck.

I mentioned those clinics and their lies because they are so pernicious that the US House of Representatives issued a report on them ...FALSE AND MISLEADING HEALTH INFORMATION PROVIDED BY FEDERALLY FUNDED  PREGNANCY RESOURCE CENTERS ... http://www.chsourcebook.com/articles/waxman2.pdf

And here's a news story ... "Deception used in counselling women against abortion" ... http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/08/07/deception_used_in_counsell...

 

Larry ==

Here's the 1990 Wolter and Sullivan article about medieval arguments about when a human person's life begins.  The arguments are essentially the same as yours:   to be a thing of a particular kind the thing must possess all of its essenial parts, and the zygote, etc., do not possess the  essential *rational* part of a human person, because it doesn't have a human brain.  It follows that what develps is actually a succession of different substances -- vegetative, animal then the human one at the last stage in the process.  

Augustine and Anselm didn't have arguments quite as elaborate as that, but theirs too followed the same general form.  As does, I might add, the argument of the contemporary philosopher Peter Singer.  His argument is more radical, however, because he argues that the rational capacities don't emerge until the child is around age 3, as I remember.  This allows him to approve of killing  defective babies after birth. 

Wolter and Sullivan consider the Aristotelean-Thomistic argument in some detai.  The article shows clearly that it simply isn't true that there is *one* Church teaching and it is that life begins at conception.  (Wolter was one of the great medieval scholars of the 20th century, so you can trust him.  He also writes extremely clearly.)

The article is in PDF form.

)http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/51/51.4/51.4.2.pdf

Crystal, I am not surprised that a House committee in 2006 might release a report on lies anti-abortion clinics tell. Now that the Rs are in control of the House, I wouldn't be surprised if a House committee has released a report on lies abortion clinics tell and how they are related to Benghazi. You and I could collaborate on a report on lies Catholic bishops tell. Shooting fish in a barrel is a time-honored way to make a point but not necessarily the way to understand the underlying truthy.

Dear Tom, The woman obtaining an abortion is a patient; she is not a "customer," unless people obtaining other minor surgical or medical treatments for conditions from bunions to colon polyps to cutaneous melanoma are also not patients.

The people you demonize by calling an abortion patient a "customer" are the doctors who treat these patients and the people who work in the facilities where these treatments are administered, from hospitals to doctor's offices to free-standing clinics. In a capitalist health care system, it is customary for doctors to charge for their services, and the average doctor who performs surgical procedures tends to be very well compensated.  But their patients are not "customers," unless one has the clear intention of using that term pejoratively.

Someone else wrote that, in Italy, abortions are free of charge.  That is also the case in the Netherlands (and native born Dutch have only 1/3 the abortion rate of Catholics in the USA, despite there being free abortion on demand in The Netherlands). So what are you going to call abortion patients in Italy and the Netherlands?  You can't very well call them "customers," can you?  Is abortion more ethical when there is no charge for it?

Once again, your personal religious views inform you that brainless embryos and fetuses are human beings. You have every right to be personally appalled.  You have every responsibility not to be an abortion participant yourself.  But you have absolutely no right to impose your personal religious views on everyone else.  To do so is simply akin to Sharia Law.

Dear Ann,

Thank you for the interesting historical link, but I honestly feel that the views of earlier generations of philosophers are not relevant, given that they had no understanding of fetal development.  Even the educated and thoughtful people who write comments to Commonweal articles display ignorance. Recently, on another thread, an otherwise thoughtful commenter stated that abortion "tortured" fetuses.  No, it doesn't, if abortion is performed before the fetus has a frontal cortex.  And I'm not talking about "age of reason" (n.b. I view Singer's arguments as appalling), I'm talking about the total absence of the frontal cortex, which is what is responsible for human thought and for the perception of pain.  This is not a matter of philosophy; it's a matter of embryology and anatomy and neurophysiology.

I am truly not trying to change anyone's personal religious beliefs on what constitutes a "human life" and what does not.  I'm simply saying that the motives of highly ethical, devoted doctors and supportive staff who perform abortions deserve to be understood and respected, as these people do not share the personal religious belief that an abortion is the taking of a human life.

For the record, as I've stated before, I favor a hard cut off line for abortions, which would be the point at which the frontal cortex begins to form. Beyond that point, abortion should be performed only in cases where the mother's life is truly threatened, e.g. as in pulmonary hypertension (e.g. the Arizona case).

One problem, however, is lack of access to abortion at the earlier periods in gestation.  I'm thinking of a poor young woman in the hinterlands of Texas or Montana or Mississippi, with no access for hundreds of miles. That's the problem with overly restrictive laws regarding medical facilities which provide abortions. These laws may delay abortion until late gestation, with the result that the woman finally ends up traveling to a state permissive of late term abortions, which I personally feel are gravely troubling.  In this regard, I'd point out another unintended consequence of vigils around abortion clinics -- i.e. the scenario in which the woman is temporarily dissuaded from proceeding, only to decide, much later on, to go through with it.

- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

 

She's in, gets treatment, and she's out. Just like at the beauty parlor

Or, you know, just like any other out-patient medical clinic.

I can't think of any other medical procedure, except possibly chemotherapy, in which you end up with less life than you started with. Maybe brainless embryos and fetuses are like cancer cells, but I just can't see it.

BTW, Larry, your scientific view doesn't seem to inform you that brainless (once again with the pejoratives) embryo is in the process of growing into what you would recognize as a human person. It wil not become asparagus, a firefly or a table lamp. If it would, we wouldn't have to kill it.

And, btw, I am not trying to impose my religious views on society. I don't see much point, for example, in making abortion illegal. I am trying to coinvince society its views on abortion are unsustainable. I do see a point in making abortion unthinkable. And not (to anticipate you) by brainwashing but by argument.

I think those who are trying to counsel someone who is thinking of an abortion should stick to the real reasons why abortion is wrong rather than resorting to what amounts to propaganda. For instance, whether abortion predisposes one to breast cancer later in life is an argument often cited.  As soon as someone brings up statistics that prove it does, someone else will bring up statistics that prove the opposite. The wrongness of the act doesn't hinge on whether it causes breast cancer, or depression, etc. even though that may be true.  The other side of the aisle is of course no less guilty of propaganda. Case in point is the recent spate of youtube videos of women filming their abortions to show others that it's not so bad.  The cognitive dissonance was particularly deafening when one woman spoke of her picture of her ultrasound, which she still kept.  Even went so far as to say it would be the thing she took with her if she was leaving a burning house.  But abortion was no big deal.

 

Speaking of the reasons why abortion is wrong, the arguments have centered on when personhood actually starts, and whether it actually constitutes murder if it happens prior to that point.  In fact there is never going to be agreement as to when human personhood starts. We believe as Christians that God has willed each of us into existence.  That we each have gifts, that we are born to help others in their journey to heaven. So abortion opposes the will of God for the person-in-the- making. It is often stated that ancient scholars such as Augustine and Aquinas believed that ensoulment didn't happen until quickening; and prior to that didn't consider abortion to be murder. However what is ignored is that they still considered it a grave sin.  They were mistaken in their biology, but not their theology.  The first sentence of this quote from Augustine is often cited, not so much the second part:  "Now who is there that is not rather disposed to think that unformed abortions perish like seeds that have never fructified.  But who will dare to deny, though he may not dare to affirm, that at the resurrection every defect in the form shall be supplied, and that thus the perfection which time would have brought shall not be wanting...but that what is not yet complete shall be completed, just as what has been injured shall be renewed."
 

 

Katherine - on one level, what you write makes a good insight.  But, it also gets us into the whole, *new*, category of *intrinsic evil* (as if that is separate from human action, behaviors, etc.)

Concern about calling birth control or even an abortion in the first weeks *murder* is that the catholic moral system would not agree with this.  We have to be more nuanced.

To call something *murder* we have to know the person's motivation, intent, context, freedom to make a valid and mature decision, etc.    In my experience, many women would not meet this level in order to arrive at a label of *murder*.

Yes, agree that it is serious, that we need to value and protect life - but, being human, we live in a world that has steps, levels, tiers so that we can better make moral decisions.  So, any loss of life saddens me but, as some said well above, will not jump to the other extreme and label, judge, condemn others based upon some *ideal* category such as intrinisic evil. 

Examples of intrinsic evils - lying, adultery, masturbation, etc.  Shoot, more and more the church is moving to view the death penalty as an intrinsic evil - so, is the state committing murder?  Yep, its complicated.

Bill, I am not interested in labeling abortion as murder, or in judging/condemning women who have had an abortion.  I am more interested in getting people to think about the will of God in their lives, and how abortion is contrary to that. 

And as far as considering things such as the death penalty to be an intrinsic evil, no argument there from me.

"I honestly feel that the views of earlier generations of philosophers are not relevant, given that they had no understanding of fetal development.  .  .  

"I'm talking about the total absence of the frontal cortex, which is what is responsible for human thought and for the perception of pain.  This is not a matter of philosophy; it's a matter of embryology and anatomy and neurophysiology.  .  .  

"I am truly not trying to change anyone's personal religious beliefs on what constitutes a "human life" and what does not.: "

Larry --

The position of Wolter and Sullivan is exactly the position that you're defending -- contemporary discoveries must be made premises of the argument.  However, W & S add that the the reason *philosophy* is relevant is because, as usual, metaphysical principles underlie and are part of scientific proofs.  If you deny the validity of logic, if you cannot justify saying that one thing is a different kind of thing than another one, then you have not established any sort of proof of what the argument is about in the first place.  The Aristotelian position -- still adhered to at least implicitly by science -- is that we know what a thing is by its properties (still a word used in scientific proofs), and one of the main properties of things are their operations.  So to a large extent we have to say that we know *what* kind of t hing a particular thing is, is by *what it does*.  Put in more Aristotelian terms, we know substances by their specifying actions (e.g., water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit).  And we know what a fetus is by what it is capable of doing -- operating on a rational level no matter how primitive a rational level, and where there is no specifically rational-human brain parts there is no specifically rational-human kind of thing.

In other words, there are two big sides to the abortion controversy -- some people do not want to admit the relevance of modern science, some do not want to admit the relevance of philosophical presuppositions.  But both are necessary for a full proof.

Also note:  I haven't said a word about theology here.  The Aquinas' argument I'm talking about here doesn't have one theological premise.  It is only when you bring in theological premises (revelation) that you are arguing theology.  Further, I would say that in a pluralistic democracy such as ours, theological arguments are not only irrelevant, they do more harm than good because when they are introduced into the public debate they are attempts to impose one person's theology on another.  And that is not moral.  It violates freedom of conscience. 

Keeping discussions going on the morality of abortion and when human rights begin seems a wholly good and prudent course, considering how easily ignoring those rights has been historically.  The problem at hand, though, is how Catholics should be going about that.  Are the clinic protests merely hardening hearts, including those of the protesters?  Isn't that what the “pope's man“ meant by referring to expressionless protesters reciting Rosaries?  Some actions merely confirm stereotypes (in this case, against Catholics ourselves) and acco of accomplish little else.  Certainly the many attempts to force passage of anti-abortion laws in the face of majority opposition gives the appearance of religious tyranny, not at all an image those demanding religious freedom for themselves should be promoting.  If anyone has a right or duty to point this out, church authorities do.  There may be method to this seemingly misspoken “madness.“

"In fact there is never going to be agreement as to when human personhood starts. We believe as Christians that God has willed each of us into existence . .  .   It is often stated that ancient scholars such as Augustine and Aquinas believed that ensoulment didn't happen until quickening; and prior to that didn't consider abortion to be murder. However what is ignored is that they still considered it a grave sin."

Katherine --

How do you know there will never be aggreement?  Contemporary biology, especially neuroscience, is giving us more and more evidence about the nature of the fetus at various stages.

Yes, it's true that Aquinas thought that prior to ensoulment abortion was a grave sin, but not all medievals thought so.  And so far as I know there wasn't much debate about this issue.  But even if there had much discussion, we would still have to ask:  was Aquinas right in this matter?  I say he was clearly wrong.  Why?  Well, the West has done a lot more thinking about human rights since his time.  Looking at his position from a modern, clearer understanding of rights, it seems ludicrous to say, as he did that *a non-human thing has a human right to life".  Why?  Because it is our humanity-- our combination of spiritual soul-and-body that is the foundation of our right to life in the first place.  No human soul-plus-human body and there is not foundation for a right to life.  You might as well say that a chimpanzee, because it is biologically much like a person has a right to a person's life.

But this question is independent of the question of late abortions, and, I would grant you, the moral  gravity of early abortions needs more attention.  I think the issue is urgent, however.  I'd say that, for instance, when a woman's health would be seriously affected by continuing the pregnancy then the issue is a grave moral issue.  Whether trivial reasons justify such abortions is, perhaps, another issue.  

Obviously, pointing out the discrepancies involved in acting like religious tyrants while demanding religious liberty for our side hasn't been a strong Catholic suit, but we turned a significant corner at Vatican 2.  Unlike his immediate predecessors, this Pope seems committed to that new course.  Little wonder he elicits controversy.  For 30-some years  we've been exhorted To turn back.

God's will?  Each one of us has to discern for ourselves what God's will is for us - that's why many other Christian denominations leave women's reproductive choices up to the individual.  Does God will every life into existence?  I don't know ... what of those babies who are miscarried?  Did God "will" their early deaths?  Not everything that happens is a result of God's will.  That would make him responsible for a lot of horrible stuff.

It may be hazardous to found the human right to life on some sort of body-soul synthesis, since neuroscience appears to be working slowly but steadily toward an understanding of human personality arising naturally from the physical properties of our brains. That would render the hypothesis of a soul superfluous, making us less a special creation than simply a very interesting development in the history of life.

We know, of course, from young-earth creationists and many politicians that it is possible to ignore or repudiate findings of science that one doesn't like. And science and theology are indeed quite different disciplines. But the Church has generally tried to reconcile them, albeit haltingly and sometimes a bit grudgingly. It certainly would not lessen the glory of God, in my view, if his initial creative act was so fruitful and true that it requires no course corrections or last-minute additives.

And actually you can be a Christian and not believe in the soul, like Nancey Murphy (from Wikipedia) ...

Nancey Murphy is a Christian theologian and philosopher .... currently Professor of Christian Philosophy at the Fuller Theological Seminary .... Her first book, Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning, won a prize from the American Academy of Religion. The Templeton Foundation awarded it the 1999 Prize for Outstanding Books in Theology .... More recently, Dr. Murphy has written a book entitled Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? .... Murphy serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She also serves as an editorial advisor for Theology and Science, Theology Today, and Christianity Today.

I have a blog post about her here ... http://povcrystal.blogspot.com/2010/06/we-have-no-souls.html

Neuroscience is too young and patchwork for us to know where its going. No doubt most neuroscientists believe that they are bringing us to "an understanding of human personality arising naturally from the physical properties of our brains" and they will no doubt present every advance as a step in that direction. But there are very good reasons, I think, for not believeing in this kind of reductive materialism.

In any case belief in the soul is a cornerstone of our faith. It isn't a scientific hypothesis that can just be thrown out when it is deemed "superfluous."

"Reductive materialism" may just be inattentiveness. Here is another view:

 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

 

And for all this, nature is never spent;

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

My italics.

 

Many things have been "a cornerstone of our faith" until they were not.

 

". . . neuroscience appears to be working slowly but steadily toward an understanding of human personality arising naturally from the physical properties of our brains. That would render the hypothesis of a soul superfluous, making us less a special creation than simply a very interesting development in the history of life."

John P. --

That is what neuroscience *claims* it's doing.  See the oft-recommended work "Mind and Cosmos" of Thomas Nagel who disputes the claim powerfully.  The problem is that contemporary scientists generally don't realize that their presuppositions which validate science are generally  not scientific ones.  That is, they're not empirical, they're philosophical/logical/metaphysical principles.  And there are now first class philosophers of science such as Nagel (an atheist) who see that those who claim that everything that is is material (e.g., the Darwinists and most neuroscientists), violate their own fundamental presuppositions.  Nagel, of course, struck a nerve because he is a pre-eminent philosopher of recent decades.  The reaction of some of the scientists was laughable.  For instance, Steven Pinker was reduced to calling Nagel senile -- but without engaging Nagel's arguments.

i should perhaps add that there is one physicist/philosopher (John Polkinghorne) who has also taken on the materialists.  Unfortunately for the seculars, Polkinhorne is not just a physicist, he's a notable one whose scientific contributions are as solid as the scientific contributions  of the materialists.

Oops --  I forgot to note that Polkinghorne is also a theologian and an Anglican priest.  You can imagine what the materialists think of him.

Keith Ward too is an Anglican priest and the former Regius orofessor of Divinity at Oxford and he's written a lot about idealism vs materialism.  Here's a short video of him talking about "Thoughts without brains" ...  http://youtu.be/CCidiF669wA

Thanks, Crystal, but the closed captioning (as usual) is a lot of gibberish.  (Or is it just philosophy? :-)

I just remembered a debate I once listened to on the Unbelievable? podcast between a Thomist and a materialist who happened to be an Evangelical Christian. Seems to be obviously relevant here. Unfortunately it looks like I can no longer listen to it, since I don't have QuickTime. Oh well, here's the link if anyone's interested:

http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid={7A2179A8-B2C2-4F32-BE24-2AFF6628FF9F}

Ann, sorry.  This Gresham College page has a video of his lecture, "Materialism and its discontents" but if you scroll down it also has the written transcript of the lecture too ... http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/materialism-and-its-discont...

Warren, thanks for the Physicalism link - I think that is a really interesting concept.

Ann,

I'm pretty sure I don't understand what you mean by contemporary scientists' non-scientific presuppositions, or whether earlier scientists were better supplied with presuppositions. But many able men and women are engaged in serious research to understand the workings and sometimes the failings of our brains. It is a vast enterprise and perhaps the greatest challenge in our attempts to understand our world. It is very early, and there is no knowing yet where the work will lead. Perhaps it will lead to the conclusion that humanity cannot be understood in purely physical and material terms, and that a non-material or spiritual component must be part of our makeup. Perhaps not. I am willing, having no alternative, to wait and see. I see no need to stake our right to life, dubious and dishonored as it is, on either outcome.

But I sense even now two difficulties with the doctrine of souls. One is that soul is simply a term and not an explanation. A resort to souls tells us no more than we knew at first about how we perceive the world, how we make decisions, how emotions and hormones affect our actions, how we connect disparate ideas and remember things, how things go wrong, and what might be done about our many disabilities. We may as well go back to dryads to explain the woods.

The other difficulty is doctrinal. We are born into a fallen world, we are taught,  as a result of the sin of Adam, the effects of which we all inherit. And we do inherit our bodily traits and dispostions from earlier humans. But the soul is supposedly the seat of intellect and free will, and therefore for us fallen creatures, the locus of sin. And if the soul is infused directly by God into each new human at the moment of conception or a little later, then that part of us responsible for sinning is not derived from Adam. Not, that is, unless we picture Adam's soul as a yeasty mass from which God tears a little piece for each of us.

Egads, Warren, that is truly weird!

Jim, you forgot that your girlfriend was going to break up with you because she didn't like dogs

 

Claire:  obviously yuo were not addressing this comment to me.

Good try, but apparently no cigar:

 

John PriorSubscriberMay 16, 2014 - 4:49pm

Fair enough, Jim McCrea. I was wondering why Bishop Galantino did not include ordination of women in his list of arguments the Church should listen to "without any taboo." Maybe it was an oversight. I hope it does not mean that things the Church has long considered grave sins are now up for debate and possible revision, sensible as that may be, but that an administrative decision founded in age-old prejudice is still beyond the pale.

 

Maybe this has something to do with Galatino’s reluctance to talk about the ordination of women:  http://www.formiche.net/2014/05/17/la-cei-attende-il-discorso-del-papa/  (it translates itself into English if you are patient)

Things look quite tense within the CEI and maybe Galatino has enough on his plate, what with the apparent recalcitance of the CEI president, Cdl Bagnasco to reduce the number of Italian dioceses, which Francis & Galatino favor.

It is going to be fun to see how these forces play out and what Francis has to say tomorrow as a lot rides on whether or not Francis can unscrew the CEI nut so firmly tightened by JP II and Benedict.

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