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Friday, March 9, 2012

Dark days are coming

Man, I can't tell you how disheartening I find things these days. 

First of all, people really seem to think that words create realities. That is to say, if we assert something, we define things the way they really are. So if we make it illegal for insurance companies not to cover unethical products and procedures, we can "say" that people who buy that insurance are not buying coverage for those products and procedures. And honestly believe it to be true, that people are not buying that kind of coverage when in fact they are. If we define "marriage" to include same-sex pairs, then marriage itself includes them, even though the life-long commitment of one man to one woman with the prospect of raising a family who are the biological or adopted children of both of them, which is not the same any any same-sex relationship no matter how committed, etc.

And people who think like that grow up to become president.

At SecondhandSmoke, Wesley Smith has a post about human exceptionalism. I made the mistake of omitting the word "other" as in "other animals," to distinguish humans from animals. I said, "When animals can write novels about empathizing with humans and philosophizing about rights, then I think we can deny human exceptionalism." And people got on my case over there with comments like, "Animals CAN do the same, last I checked human beings are animals. You should have learned this in 5th grade." It's stupidity like that, that could make me doubt human exceptionality. Except for the fact that only humans can be THAT exceptionally... well... stupid.

And then there's moral relativism. There was a post last month at KevinMD about abortion, written by a student of medical ethics who was all gung-ho for moral relativism as if he had just discovered the first antibiotics. My first comment there was about the moral relativism itself, not about abortion. I mean, people really do believe that "It's wrong to force your morality on others." But in preventing people from forcing their morality on others, you force your morality on them. The principle is violated in enforcing it. Therefore, it's self-contradictory and therefore a false principle of ethics. Yet, people say it, and in saying it think that it becomes a reality.

Bioethics is fast becoming an exercise in crafting plausible rationales. That is to say, SPIN. It is becoming a matter of controlling the dialog, of speaking the loudest, of repeating your view until people believe it, and of shutting up the opposition.

And the forces of darkness are very active. And very powerful, at least in terms of politics.

Authentic Bioethics, however, remains committed to an authentic anthropology and the rule of Charity as the form of all ethical reasoning.

I hang in there because I know how it all ends. It's getting through the darkness that's hard.


  1. You hit the nail on the head. I was just recently bemoaning the state of things with my wife regarding marriage laws and health care but I did not make the important connection you do, namely the error in thinking by which one believes that in naming the object or situation one changes its objective reality. - Patrick

  2. Hi Patrick, happy feast day next week!

    This naming phenomenon is part of moral relativism. Name it to be good, and it is good. If "I" call it good, it has to be good, and no one has the right to tell me otherwise. So also with all the spin that comes out of politics.

    It's a process of mind control. Keep objective. Reality defines our words, not the other way around. Definitions should reflect reality and not create it. Don't let them fool you.