Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Democrat’

Peter Hitchens: ‘The Rage Against God’

17/05/2010

manicstreetpreacher is simply appalled.

I have not read Peter Hitchens’ addition to the host of “flea” responses to the New Atheism, The Rage Against God, but I heard him on the Saturday, 15 May 2010 edition of Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? discussing the book with atheist scientific broadcaster and writer, Adam Rutherford.

Without giving a blow-by-blow account, what started off as a reasonable and balanced discussion on the pros and cons Christian versus secular morality swiftly descended into a demagogic point-scoring exercise by Hitchens on the questions of abortion and sex education.  I was most offended by Hitchens’ cheap emotional ploy of stating that abortion was murder and abortion clinics were comparable to the Nazi death camps.

Perhaps Hitchens should take a look at this picture…

…watch Sam Harris’ take on stem cell research from his lecture at Beyond Belief 2006

…read my blog and listen to the debate on Unbelievable? with former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris on abortion aired a few months ago…

Abortion is a difficult issue and I struggle with it greatly.  Evan Harris did very well to convey the moral minefield of the topic and is a superb spokesman for humanists and secularists everywhere.  Abortion is hardly a wonderful thing that we need to be encouraging more of, but it is alas the least worst option.   Rather like democracy as a form of government, as Winston Churchill once said.

(…)

Paul Hill, a Christian minister who murdered an abortion clinic doctor in the USA, was far more evil than the doctor he killed could ever reasonably be considered.  Hill’s victim terminated foetuses at the request of their mothers.  Foetuses that could not feel pain like we can, who had no memories, no emotions, no wife, no children, no friends, no relatives to mourn them.  I admit that it is an awful choice to make, but I do so without hesitation.

…to realise how crudely simplistic his reasoning really is.  Such moral absolutist hysteria advances the quest for truth not one iota.

I am pro-choice because I believe that fertilised embryos do not feel pain, experience emotions or accrue memories like a living human being after birth until an advanced stage of gestation, if at all.  I’m not holding anything against foetuses as the Nazis regarded Jews as sub-human as Peter Hitchens argues, but THEY ARE NOT HUMAN BEINGS!

However, I would change my stance if convincing evidence were produced that contradicted  my impression of the sensory and emotional content of foetuses.  I wonder what evidence or argument would change Peter Hitchens’ stance on abortion and convince him that it was ethical?  I suspect none whatsoever; he has ruled it out a priori on religious grounds and no evidence or reasoning would change his mind.  I suppose that’s why they call it blind faith.

Debates are always subjective affairs and very often both sides claim victory.  But it was no small wonder that Peter Hitchens attempted to dissuade listeners from watching his debate against older, wiser and funnier brother, Christopher Hitchens, at The Hauenstein Center in April 2008 on the Iraq War and religion, because quite simply he was pulverised by his heretical elder sibling.  It was an embarrassment, frankly.  I don’t even support the Iraq War and I thought Hitch Snr made a better argument.  And as for Petee’s arguments in favour of God?  Let’s just say I won’t be spending my hard earned cash on his new book if this performance is anything to go by.

To conclude this post, I present the video of the full event.  Sit back and enjoy the slaughter.

Unbelievable? debates abortion

08/02/2010

manicstreetpreacher encourages you to listen to a mature debate on an emotional topic.

The 23 January 2010 edition of Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? featured a debate between pro-choice humanist Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris and pro-life Christian Sarah Macken of the Alive + Kicking group.  It was from a few years ago at a time when the show took live phone calls from listeners.

It is an extremely level-headed discussion of a very thorny issue and I cannot recommend it enough.  I am pro-choice and therefore I would hand the debate to Evan Harris, who is a prominent voice of the National Secular Society, but only because I agree with his position.   Sarah Macken articulated her position extremely well and said plenty to get me thinking.

Abortion is a difficult issue and I struggle with it greatly.  Evan Harris did very well to convey the moral minefield of the topic and is a superb spokesman for humanists and secularists everywhere.  Abortion is hardly a wonderful thing that we need to be encouraging more of, but it is alas the least worst option.   Rather like democracy as a form of government, as Winston Churchill once said.

At some level, I believe in the concept of the “unborn child” and that every gestating foetus should be given a chance in life.  But I also believe in a woman’s right to choose, simply because the alternative is worse.  Women are still going to want to abort unwanted pregnancies.  If it is illegal, it will be driven underground and become the happy hunting ground of backstreet abortionists who will botch the process, perhaps without aborting the foetus successfully and causing lasting harm to both mother and child. The original Michael Caine version of Alfie presents a powerful portrayal of this.

I am equally certain that Paul Hill, a Christian minister who murdered an abortion clinic doctor in the USA, was far more evil than the doctor he killed could ever reasonably be considered.  Hill’s victim terminated foetuses at the request of their mothers.  Foetuses that could not feel pain like we can, who had no memories, no emotions, no wife, no children, no friends, no relatives to mourn them.  I admit that it is an awful choice to make, but I do so without hesitation.

However, if there is a God, he is the greatest abortionist.  Many pregnant women suffer from miscarriages.  Sometimes it is a very apparent, obvious and painful process, both physically and mentally; very often though the woman doesn’t even realise that they were pregnant in the first place.  That believers consider God alone has the right to dictate who lives and who dies is what Nietzsche described as “slave morality”: you give praise and thanks constantly to your master, no matter how meagre the scraps he allows to fall from his table and call it benevolence.  I for one am relieved that there is very little evidence to believe it.  The world would be a much worse place if it were true.

Moral issues are complex and need to be assessed on their likely or actual consequences rather than being predetermined according to an absolute standard.  This doesn’t mean that morals are relative according to cultural and historical context.  I believe we can distil objective moral standards as our knowledge and experience of our thoughts and actions increases.

Perhaps it would be wonderful if there were a list of rules set in stone somewhere in the metaphysical universe, but I simply don’t see any evidence for it.  We just have to feel our around, sometimes getting it right, sometimes making mistakes, always striving for a state of moral perfection regardless of whether that will ever be achieved in reality.