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    • This is being posted primarily for the attention of @cvdavis and @Chris

      The three of us have discussed the topic of ethics in the past.

      I've run across an article which is behind a paywall but which has an abstract.

      In the abstract's introduction it uses the word "prenatal" but later in the next to the last sentence of the results section it uses the term "neonatal" twice including the phrase "with the explicit intention to end neonatal life".

      On the assumption that this was not a mistaken substitution of the word "neonatal" for what should have been "prenatal" this is another example, this time in a European nation, of a willingness to kill infants after birth. It is possible that the wrong word was used but I think it is unlikely.

      @Vilen @kevin Do you guys know why the above preview talks about disabled cookies in a browser? My browser displays the article's abstract page.

    • Curious what they consider serious (non fatal) neonatal condition. I was pretty surprised to hear the percentages of doctors willing to consider it. Does the serious condition matter? I’d have to hear more but it definitely makes me feel uncomfortable.

    • But your feeling of being uncomfortable is both subjective and cultural.

      Atheism offers no standard of criteria upon which to evaluate whether this is a bad thing or a good thing.

      Your own personal feelings may cause you to label it one way or the other and the society in which you live may also have a prevalent viewpoint on the subject but (within an atheistic paradigm) there is no universal standard by which to evaluate this.

      If a planet has multiple cultures which are atheistic, there will eventually be an intellectual conflict (not suggesting that it will escalate to physical violence, although it might) between societies which hold differing viewpoints on this subject as well as many others.

      Thus the idea of making the world a better place is dependant on the personal viewpoints of the individuals and the cultural mores in which each of them live. If there are conflicting definitions of what constitutes "better" there is no standard by which to resolve the conflict. This will result in a struggle for dominance of some cultural paradigms over others.

    • I would rather simply say it’s more a matter of I haven’t thought about it before, rather than a problem with an atheistic worldview. I am more than aware that religion provides ready made answers to these questions. I don’t think that means it’s a superior viewpoint to consider it from. I’m more of the opinion that it’s the lazy thinking way out. But then if I took this to the extreme logical end and an atheistic scientific viewpoint was developed then it too could be considered a lazy way out.

    • I think that you are misunderstanding my point.

      I am not trying to prove to you that religion is a superior viewpoint because I believe that 99.9% of religion is false and delusionary. It is possible that you have never been exposed to my view of what the truth is concerning religion.

      I'm simply trying to show that although humanity has a sense of justice, of principles, of the concept of improving the world in which we live yet humanity has never been able to produce a universal set of criteria to serve as a standard for what is better and what is worse in these matters.

      Humans believe in justice but they disagree as to what justice is.

      Humans believe in principles but disagree as to what is unprincipled.

      Humans believe in making the world a better place but completely disagree as to what constitutes "better."

      Where then do these concepts originate?

      The ancient greeks came up with three rules of logic and our modern reasoning (including science) is founded on these principles. Yet no one has ever proven that they are more than an iintellectual fantasy.

      We are the only species on this planet that conceives of concepts like love and morality (or ethics if you prefer) yet we have never proven that such things are more than our conceits.

      Why then do humans persist in believing in these things?

      I believe that I know the answer to that question. Hint: Atheism does is incapable on answering that question.

    • I recently listened the audiobook "Beyond Religion" by the Dalai Lama. He proposes an ethical system based on our common humanity, saying everything important we need to know ethically we can learn from our mothers; i.e. we should care for one another as our mothers cared for us when we were helpless infants. In this paradigm it is not necessary to believe in the existance of a Supreme Being for one to believe that other individuals have the same right to life and happiness as oneself. This is not unlike Christianity's Golden Rule but very unlike what seems to be the dominant principle of our time "He who has the Gold makes the Rules."

      From this perspective, it seems to me that decisions regarding the health and welfare of the unborn should be made by those most intimately involved--the mother and father, informed by those medical professionals immediately involved in providing care.

    • As I stated in my previous post, it is my view that 99.9% of religion is false and delusionary. I do not believe that the man known by the title of Dalai Lama has any more knowledge than Socrates, Kant, or Aristotle.

    • I’m curious how you’ve come to the conclusion that your religion is right yet close to 100% of the other religious beliefs on earth are incorrect. How did you come to learn of your religious beliefs? How common is your religion in your area? Worldwide?

    • I agree with most of what you are saying but I do think humans can one day converge on universal truths, universal laws and universal ethics and morality. We are a long way from that but we could get there if religious beliefs are phased out as we come to have greater scientific understanding. There would always be different morays, folkways and so on but there is likely to be a continual convergence.

    • Nor do I. But I find the idea that ethics need not be religion-based intriguing. Having been raised in a very religious family, and having rejected that world-view after years of reflection as an adult, I am intrigued by an ethical framework that is independent of one's belief or non-belief in a diety. I reject the postulation that theists are "good people" and atheists are "amoral".

    • First of all, you are making an assumption regarding my thought process.

      For the sake of intellectual discussion only, postulate with me that Deity exists.

      Now if Deity exists then Deity determines what religion is acceptable to Deity and what religion is not acceptable to Deity.

      Abraham Lincoln did not believe in an afterlife (two of his sons died while he was alive) but he wrote a short document regarding God's viewpoint of the Civil War with which I am in agreement. In this document, Lincoln wrote: "God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time."

      If religions contradict one another (and they do) then logically speaking they cannot all be right.

      Therefore, logically speaking, it necessarily follows that some religion is both of human origin and also contrary to the will of the Deity which we are postulating exists.

      Now suppose for the sake of this discussion that my religion is not acceptable to this postulated Deity. Does that in any way defeat my conclusion that 99.9% of religion is false.

      No, it simply would mean that my religious beliefs are among those which are delusional.

      Take, as an example, the belief that Jesus is both deity and also deity's only spokesman since approximately the year 29 of the current common calendar. If that belief is wrong then all the religions that are built upon that fundamental belief are false and delusional. On the other hand, if it is true then all the religions which are not based on that belief are false and delusional. That belief cannot be both true and false. It must be one or the other.

      Likewise, with all other points of religious belief.

      What you don't seem to realize @cvdavis is that I do not believe that my belief in the doctrines in which I believe makes them right. They were either right before I believed in them or else I am deluded.

      You asked how common my religion is.

      One of my doctrinal beliefs is that in every age, the majority were wrong.

      In the days of Noah, only 8 were saved from drowning.

      In the days of Caleb and Joshua, they were the only two of the men who had been over the age of twenty when they left Egypt who entered the promised land because the majority were wrong.

      In the days of Hezekiah when the Assyrians were destroying the majority of Israel because of wickedness, God promised to save a remnant.

      After Cyrus the Persian defeated the Babylonian army only a minority returned to rebuild the temple.

      And Jesus said "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow the gate and difficult the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

    • I also reject the view that being a theist makes someone a good person.

      I believe that only God is good.

      Those adults who get to heaven will get to heaven because they were forgiven. The reason that we need forgiveness is because we were not good people. It is not man's goodness that causes someone to be among those who receive the final reward.

    • I'm always a bit reticent about jumping into these kind of conversations online because it's very easy to be misconstrued and offend multiple people, but...

      I'm really struggling a bit to see how the original post, and the ethical question over late stage termination or postnatal euthanasia is a religious one.

      To make it so implies that a certain group of people, either those of a specific religious faith or those without religious faith are incapable of making ethical or moral decisions and that their belief system defines them. I don't believe that is the case and actually find it both simplistic and slightly offensive.

      I don't have any religious convictions and I will admit that I have at times been guilty of judging others based on theirs, which is something I know I shouldn't do.

      That doesn't mean that I don't have an ethical or moral code and that my lack of religious faith makes me a good or a bad person, or means that I must have a certain view on issues like the original one mentioned.

      My personal views on those issues are more complex and without absolutes. I think the point of the medical professionals involved in the survey is that they believe it is better to alleviate suffering than to prolong it, and I'd say that is a fair point.

      It is possible to be born with a "non-fatal" condition that whilst it may not kill someone in the immediate term will cause them to live in extreme physical or mental pain. In such cases surely it is better to humanely and painlessly prevent that suffering. It's the whole quality of life argument, which again can be argued endlessly and really nobody has enough insight to make a judgement on apart from the parents and the medical professionals who are in full possession of the explicit details of each individual case.

      Having watched someone I care about suffer in extended pain, lose most of themselves for most of their conscious time due to the drugs they were taking to control that pain, and have a very low quality of life, and having been the person who had final say over their do not resuscitate order (even though they had signed it), my perspective is that their is very rarely any point to forcing someone to endure prolonged suffering. Whilst this example applied to an adult, I don't think that my view changes very much if the subject is unborn or recently born.

      Having said all of that, I really don't think you can judge this from an abstract without a clear definition of what each of the terms used actually means.

      Our moral and ethical decisions should not be based on our belief or lack of faith in any particular religious deity, they should be based on our humanity, and that isn't defined by our religion.

    • I like your viewpoint. Sorry for the situation you and a loved one had to endure but I’m glad they had you in their life. You seem very observant, reflective and compassionate.

    • Thanks. The reality of life is that it happens. We love people and they die, and life goes on. Sometimes it's fast and easy, sometimes it's the exact opposite and as much as we'd always like it to be next door it doesn't work like that.

      In some of those situations we get the choice to alleviate or to prolong suffering, I don't see that as a difficult decision.

    • I read the article really quickly. Seems more like a renewal of her spiritual or religious commitment. It’s not an uncommon thing when people are facing a situation that turns their life upside down and they have to face possible death. I am one of the people she spoke of that things of religion as having childish beliefs and being unable to answer the hard questions satisfactorily. Instead of spending their time reading scripture or the bible they should spend some time reading about the workings of the brain or physics or evolution. Maybe even the history of ethics or human anthropology both physical and social. There are more ways to be enlightened and fulfilled than turning to religion or new age beliefs. There are also more ways to be moral than through religion. I’m still of the belief that religion is for those who have give. Up trying to understand the true nature of reality. It’s also reassuring to believe we don’t die when we die or that we may see our loved ones one day. Or that our loved ones are in a better place. Of course there is zero scientific evidence for any such thing and personal and anecdotal experience has been show. Time and time again to be faulty and lead us astray.

    • I believe that a large percentage of my loved ones are in a far worse place.

      My late wife used to agonize over her certainty that her loved ones were going to end up in a far worse place.

      I've noticed repeatedly in your comments about religion that your view of religion is more "romanticized" than the reality of my experiences and beliefs. My beliefs often make me very uncomfortable.

      In many ways, believing that I will not have to stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account for my life to Him, would be more comfortable.

      By the way, I believe that those who think that when a faithful person dies they go directly to their final reward are ignoring what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that all the dead are in a state (or a place) of waiting. That all humanity will be judged on the day of resurrection and that after the judgment THEN the faithful will receive a home in heaven.

    • Did your late wife have a religion? That could be part of her reason for fear of where he loved ones would go.
      I have to generalize with regards to religion. Your religion (with my limited understanding of it) is different from general Christianity but still a distraction for you from reality. It sounds like it’s a worthwhile distraction for you that makes you feel like you’re headed in the right direction. It’s not unlike those people who believe in conspiracy theories and feel they are special and among the few who truly understand what’s going on. It’s hard to not sound condescending but it’s not my intention. I too once upon a time believed in a god. But then I studied history of religion, anthropology, evolution, science and critical thinking. There’s no credible scientific evidence for a god so I will reject it. I’ll always be open to new evidence that shows I’m mistaken but this evidence will not be subjective, personal or anecdotal. It’ll also be taken in light of current scientific understanding of the brain and how we are deceived.

      I guess your views of religious beliefs are not that far off from mine in that you reject what most religious people believe.

    • It treats religion as something like choosing one's favorite dessert or the flavor of a dessert.

      Isn't that on some level accurate?

      With absolutely no empirical evidence that substantiates any single religious faith more than any other, what are people's choice to follow a certain faith above any other, or to follow none at all, based on?

      One possibility is that it is something environmental, following the same beliefs as parents, teachers, or the community around us.

      The other possibility is that we pick the 'flavour' that we like the most or that seems the most sensible or believable to us. You pick a belief system, i.e. Christianity or Islam, which in this analogy is the kind of desert and then within that you pick a specific set of beliefs, i.e. Catholicism or Sunni, which is like the flavour. It's not based on anything scientific or any proof, it's just what feels right to you.

      There is no way to absolutely know for sure who is right or wrong, unless we have communicated directly with a deity, or have a time machine to go back a few million years.

      I still don't think that it has anything at all to do with the original post though, humanity and ethics are absolutely not tied to religion.