‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Friday, 25 June 2010

Can unborn babies feel pain - and does it make a difference ?

I was going to blog about this news item but Calvin Smith beat me to it, so I'll pass on the link to his blog here which gives a good overview of the issues.

Basically a government backed report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and commissioned by the Department of Health, concludes that the feotus at 24 weeks cannot feel pain. One does wonder whether this is really unbiased scientific evidence, or findings gathered to support a left wing social and political agenda.
Telegraph - Foetus 'cannot feel pain before 24 weeks'

And there is the more important matter of whether the unborn child has rights of his or her own. Many Christians believe that the feotus has intrinsic value whether or not it can feel pain, and should therefore be treated as a moral patient of equal dignity to infants, children and adults. It is the duty of adults to protect that life.

Downing Street reports that the Prime Minister will "continue to be guided by the science on the matter". The problem is that values cannot be reduced to science in this way. (Although later news stories suggest the Prime Minister is willing to reduce the time limit for abortions to 20 or 22 weeks).

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Peter Singer attacks religion for being regressive

Peter Singer, the environmentalist who wants to raise some animal rights above some human beings, has criticised religion for being regressive in a Guardian Comment is Free blog article.

Religion's regressive hold on animal rights issues

Although he acknowledges that some religious beliefs are progressive he is generally dismissive. He writes for instance that "some Christian theologians offer a kinder, more compassionate interpretation of the idea of our God-given dominion over the animals. They regard the grant of dominion as a kind of stewardship, with God wanting us to take care of his creatures and treat them well."

But he believes that religion has a generally regressive influence on ethical issues "whether they are concerned with the status of women, with sexuality, with end-of-life decisions in medicine, with the environment, or with animals. Although religions do change, they change slowly, and tend to preserve attitudes that have become obsolete and often are positively harmful."

Singer is really a product of the Enlightenment, where religion must be viewed through a negative tinted lens, and progress must be seen in purely secular humanistic terms. Singer's ethics though are subjective to human sentiment where a cute furry animal is to have more rights than an unborn child that is out of sight. The list he gives is the usual shallow liberal issues where there is a lack of depth of thought regarding who has rights and values. There is a lack of concern for responsibility towards others; except for animals. However, one wonders why Singer thinks he has the right to have a greater voice than others given a common rationality amongst human beings. Clearly for ethics to have real objective substance beyond human sentiment there is a need for a higher authority who seeks to bring equality.

I would also point out that there are many Christians who are concerned about environmental issues and animal suffering as well. Experimentation on animals is something that is great concern to many Christians who do see that they have value and should be protected from unnecessary harm.