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Politics, Economics, and Religion

Religion has so many connections to political and economic beliefs, there needs to be a place to identify linkages, problems, goals, options, action plans and evaluation criteria.  

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What is the purpose of life?

An eternal question, what is the purpose of life?, occupied philosophers’ thoughts throughout history. Stone pictographs reveal even primitive peoples reflected on this query. Each one has the capacity to define his or her personal thinking about politics, economics and religion.

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Global Tax on Fossil Fuel Needed

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Bergen Woods Dec 10. 1 Reply

Ralph Regenvanu and Avinash Persaud make perfect sense, arguing that current climate risk insurance policy practices are immoral.It's time for those who caused…Continue

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The French method of resistance

Started by Joan Denoo. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck Nov 25. 3 Replies

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Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:04pm

Abortion Historically
Abortion has been around, and in continuous practice, since at least the time of Classical Greece. Hippocrates died 370 BCE, Plato, who died about 348 BCE, and Aristotle, who died 322 years BCE, all mentioned the subject. And this is amazing, because we know that the subject was in open discussion during the formation of the New Testament, and yet it isn’t even alluded to in either the Old, or New Testament.
Between 50 and 70 years after Jesus died, hundreds of papers started showing up. They don’t know why, and the reason they don’t know why is because no one who knew Jesus ever wrote about Him, and no one who wrote about Him ever met Him. So why did these papers start showing up? Some of the papers agreed with each other, some agreed to some extent, and some were giving opposing views on different subjects. In 325CE, Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor. called for the Nicaea Synod, and told the attending bishops that he wanted them to decide which papers were the ones to be followed, and which not. This meeting resulted in the New Testament.
One of the papers considered was the “Didache”. (pronounced did-eh-key, or did-eh-kay. Either is accepted.) You can find the Didache on Google. If you want to read it, find a source with “PDF”. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to read the whole thing. We know it was read and considered during the formation of the New Testament, because it is in the Apocrypha, and it contains one of the first descriptions on how to baptize, the Eucharist, and possibly the first written copy of the "Lord's Prayer". I've included the Second chapter here:

Didache
“Chapter 2.
2:1 And this is the second commandment of the teaching. 2:2 You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not corrupt boys, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not deal in magic, you shall do no sorcery, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born, you shall not covet your neighbour's goods, you shall not perjure yourself, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall not cherish a grudge, you shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; 2:3 for the double tongue is a snare of death. 2:4 Your word shall not be false or empty, but fulfilled by action. 2:5 You shall not be avaricious nor a plunderer nor a hypocrite nor ill-tempered nor proud. 2:6 You shall not devise an evil plan against your neighbour. 2:7 You shall not hate any man, but some you shall reprove, and for others you shall pray, and others you shall love more than your life.” (The underlining is mine.)

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:04pm

When I’m talking with people about the Bible, I’ll say the Bible was written by men, and invariably someone will say "Yes, but it was written with God's guidance." Now we have a dilemma. Either the New Testament was written by man without guidance, OR it was written by man, and God guided them around the subject of abortion. It is either one way, or the other. We know the subject was discussed, but it is nowhere to be found in either the Old Testament, nor the New Testament.
Pro-lifers feel that at the moment of conception, the first multiplying cells are human, and it immediately has a soul. I don’t know where they got this idea. The Bible (Genesis 2:7) says God breathed the breath of life into Adam after he had formed him. The Catholic Bible, and the Jewish Torah say, “and he became a living being”, while The Protestant King James version says, “and he became a living soul”. No matter which word you want to use, “being” or “soul”, Adam did not become a being or soul until after he was formed.
In Job 3:1-16, Job is lamenting and wondered why he couldn’t have been born prematurely “before his eyes saw the light of day”, so that he never would have been. If he had been ensouled at the moment of conception, he “would have been” any time after that moment.
Exodus 21:22-25 seems to corroborate this thought:
“22 If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman's husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award. 23 But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life. 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
Because it doesn't have a soul yet, God places no importance on the fetus, and leaves it to the father for resolution. If you read the Bible at all, you know there are several passages mentioning the “first born son”. If the fetus mentioned above were going to be the man’s first-born son, then obviously, he’s going to place more value on it, than if it were going to be his fourth daughter. This passage has no bearing at all on abortion, and in fact, indicates “Thou shalt not kill” has no bearing concerning the fetus. This is evident in the way the harm to the mother is handled in comparison to the death of the fetus.
After reading Job 3:1-16, and Exodus 21:22-25, I choose to think that a fetus does not have a soul until it is born, breaths on its own, and starts to absorb and act on information. I feel that a person's soul is his/her entire thought process, including thoughts, memory, mental stature, and mental reactions to any stimuli. A person’s very essence, or nature. In other words, the person has to have a brain to have thoughts, and the brain has to be developed enough to think to have a soul. A fetus does not have any kind of brain at all in the first trimester, let alone enough brain to have thoughts. It doesn’t even have enough brain to feel pain until somewhere between the 28th and 30th week of gestation, and that's half way through the 3rd trimester!!

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:04pm

St. Augustine (13 November 354 CE – 28 August 430 CE) followed the ancient Greek philosophers, and thought the fetus did not receive its soul until the 40th day after conception if it was a male, and 90 days if it was a female. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 CE– 7 March 1274 CE) agreed with this thought 800 years later.
In 1588, Pope Sixtus V determined that the fetus was ensouled at conception, and abortion was murder any time after that. Two years later, Pope Gregory XIV cancelled that edict, and went back to Augustine's and Aquinas' thoughts.
I remember an incident when I was 7 years old. I was at a friend's house, and one of the adults in the house was talking about a friend having a baby, and made the statement, “The baby took in its soul at 4:30 this morning.” Now that was an interesting statement!! What is a soul? And why did the baby take it in? I went home, and asked my mother what that was all about, and she said that means the baby took its first breath and became a person at 4:30. This happened about the time that President Franklin Roosevelt died, so it wasn’t that long ago that people had a completely different idea of when a fetus became a baby.
In the U.S., abortion was legal up until the 1820’s. Connecticut passed the first law against apothecaries selling solutions for the sole purpose of causing abortions in 1821. In 1829, New York passed the first laws against abortions by making abortion a felony if committed after quickening, and a misdemeanor if done before. England was also pushing for anti-abortion laws during this same time period.
And it wasn’t until 1868 (about 40 years later), that the church considered abortion as murder at any stage after conception. Notice that it was the American and English societies that started the anti-abortion move, and not the church. The church followed society’s lead by almost 40 years in 1868, but most European nations didn’t follow suit. And even now, the church has not made that an infallible decision. In other words, that is how they feel about it now, but they are allowing room for change in the future. And that change has already started.
When the church prohibited abortion, it was necessary for the woman who received an abortion to approach the Holy See for forgiveness of her crime. Almost 40 years after Roe v. Wade, near the end of 2017, the church has downgraded the seriousness of abortion by allowing the woman to go to her neighborhood priest for forgiveness.
No matter which side of the debate you are on, we've all heard the many different circumstances that might warrant an abortion; to save the mother's life, incest, to prevent the birth of a fetus with a known deformity, (such as down's syndrome that can be detected before birth), convenience, finances, curtails the mother’s future, etc., etc., etc. Looking at these different circumstances, it must be realized that sometimes an abortion is the act that does the least amount of harm and can be considered a moral act.

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:03pm


Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:01pm

Abortion Morally

Part of the problem is that the Pro-Lifers appeal to emotion. They show a sonogram of a fetus in the womb that is close to birth and say, “It’s a baby. See? !! It has arms, and legs, and eyes, and a nose, and it's sucking on its thumb!!” Why don’t they show a sonogram of a fetus in the first trimester, since that is when most abortions are performed?
Another part of the problem is that quite often when we think of abortion, we are visualizing teenagers getting abortions to correct mistakes made in the back seat. At the time we are thinking of this, we are not thinking of the mother of a Christian family with other children, who’s pregnancy has developed into a life-threatening situation. I've heard it said that even when the mother's life is in danger, an abortion is not warranted. What kind of person could possibly ask their mother, sister, daughter, or wife, to give up their life for the sake of an unborn fetus? Only a person that cannot possibly get pregnant could demand such a sacrifice. That thought is so repugnant to me that I get angry every time I hear someone say it. If there is an epitome of fanaticism, this would have to be it. Where is the morality in depriving her other children of a mother? Which takes us back to morals. Who's morals? How can the death of the mother be considered the least amount of harm?
The Pro-lifer wants life, life, and more life without regard to the quality of the life the baby faces, or the future life of the mother, or the effect it will have on children already in the family, or the family as a whole. In many cases the mother already has other children, and she has to think of the quality of life for those children also. Where is the morality of forcing married (or any other) women, to have more children if they don’t have the resources to properly take care of the children they already have? Where is the morality in forcing the mother of a family to accept death, when the fetus is going to die before birth, or shortly after birth?
The Pro-Lifers like to twist words and their meanings. On several occasions I’ve heard or read that using the stem cells from fetuses will result in “farming fetuses” for the sole purpose of obtaining stem cells. As if the fetuses were developed, and then aborted, for the sole purpose of getting their stem cells. Getting the stem cells is an indirect result of abortion, not the goal. And there are so many abortions, that it will never be necessary to “farm” fetuses for this purpose.
In another instance of twisting word meanings, I heard a Pro-Lifer state that abortion could be considered as a form of genocide, because minorities are the largest percentage of those getting abortions.
Webster defines genocide as:
“The systematic killing or extermination of a whole people or nation.”
Abortions are not systematic, and they are not aimed at any specific people or nation. The pregnant woman approaches the doctor. To be systematic, the doctor would have to approach the pregnant woman. Or there would have to be laws that only allow women of certain races to have abortions. None of that is taking place. Those who receive abortions approach the doctor of their own volition, and with their own, or their family's well-being in mind. I seriously doubt if the pregnant mother, or the abortionist, is thinking of her race at the time of decision. That is something statisticians do after the fact.

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:00pm

The following are reasons I think abortion can be moral, and should remain legal:
1. Whether it is legal, or illegal, if a woman wants an abortion, she will get it. Either in a dark alley with a “doctor”, or a coat hanger. Before abortion was legalized, many young women bled to death when using an object, such as a coat hanger to try and scrape the fetus from their womb. Or died because of an infection obtained in a less than sterile “operating” room. I personally know three women who received abortions in the 1940s when it was still illegal.
2. Any woman that can afford to cross into Canada, or travel to Europe can get an abortion on demand. If I remember right, that was one of the arguments given when they legalized abortion with Roe v. Wade. When abortions were illegal, they were only illegal for poor women. The better off were flying to Europe.
3. If the woman has an abortion, it means she doesn’t want the baby. If she were forced to carry through with the baby, she would be raising a child she does not want. The chances of there being a bonding between her and the child are questionable. Think of everything you've heard of serial killers; it seems to me that almost every one of them, if not all, said there was no bonding with their mother when they were children. I am not saying that every unwanted child born will turn into a serial killer, but it seems to me that if women are forced to carry through with an unwanted pregnancy to term, it will increase the number of dangerous misfits in our society.
I want to point out that Roe v. Wade was decided early in 1973. About 18 years later, the crime rate (percentage-wise), in all categories started a decline that continued to 2013.
4. I continually hear that adoption would be an alternative to abortion. In 2002, there were 52,534 adoptions. That same year 134,836 children under the age of 16 were still in foster homes after the adoptions. If you are one of those who proposes adoption, I hope you are at the agency trying to adopt at least one of the remaining 134,836 children who haven't been adopted yet. If you're not, how can you possibly use that as a solution? (I heard President Bush say that adoption was an alternative, but I never heard any reports of him setting any examples of leadership by adopting a child.). The Pro-Lifers seem to be living in a dream world where everything is being taken care of by someone else. Believe me, IT'S NOT!! (A side note: There were 867,475 abortions in the year 2000. If they had been born, how many more children would still be in foster homes?)

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 11:00pm

5. The monetary drain on society to maintain children in foster homes is enormous. There are many reasons why children end up in foster homes, but why add to the load by forcing women to have babies they don't want.
6. Incest. It is against the law for a woman to marry her brother, father, (or first cousin in most states), because the chances for physical, or mental disability increases greatly in sex between close relatives. If we won't allow marriages for this reason, why should we force a woman to carry a pregnancy through when the chances are so great for these disabilities? Does that make any sense?
Those of you who are pro-life must think by now that I am cold-hearted, and uncaring about life. Actually, just the opposite is true. I just want to focus my attention on those who are already alive, and those WANTED pregnancies. It is hard for me to pity an unborn, and unwanted fetus without a brain, when we have to make a choice as to whether that unwanted fetus receives our resources, or the already born, and wanted, who are in need of help.
One night in 2013, on the local news, it was stated by the head of Health and Human Services for Oregon that the state was strapped for people willing to provide foster care. As a result of this, they have been returning children to their birth parents in what can only be described as “doubtful circumstances”. The statement was the end of an article on the death of a child who had been returned to his parents, even though the father was a convicted child molester, and the mother was a “meth” addict.
In February, 2018 Portland, Oregon put out another desperate appeal for people to become foster parents.
The cry of the Pro-lifer is, “Life is precious!”. Ask the Romanian boy in the next paragraph how precious his life is, or the child mentioned in the last paragraph. Yes, I agree life CAN be precious, but there are circumstances where allowing the life of a fetus to continue is the greater harm.
A few years ago, a man in Portland, Oregon was arrested for child abuse. He had gone to Romania and adopted a little boy. When the boy reached nine years old, the man took videos of himself performing sex acts on his adopted son. He returned the rented video camera before erasing the pictures. The next camera renter took the video to the police.
We continuously hear people say, “If they would relax the adoptions rules, more kids would be adopted.” The news story I just told you about is the reason there are such strict rules for adoption. I wonder if the man had tried to adopt in America, and was turned down, before going to Romania.
The last two cases took place in a period of two weeks, and both of them happened in Oregon. Think about what is happening across the entire country!! Foster parents, and adoption do not always work.

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 10:59pm

God said, “Be fruitful, and multiply.” Okay, we did that. Now what? We've multiplied to the point that we are so crowded that we are destroying the earth. Where is a practical solution? The Pro-lifers always have solutions, but I haven't heard a practical one yet. One other solution I heard President Bush state was "abstinence‟.
This is such an on-going subject that CNN had an article that covered two families, and how they handled the abortion issue. The first story was about a woman who was pregnant with twins, and the twins had “Twin to twin transfusion Syndrome”. This meant that the twins were sharing all bodily fluids and it would be fatal to them. It could also be fatal to the mother if the pregnancy continued. The doctor, with the mother and husband, decided that an abortion was necessary to protect the mother. The abortion was carried out. In the second story, a mother was pregnant with a fetus that had problems with “Chromosome 18”, it only had half a brain, and several other serious physical defects. She decided to carry the pregnancy to term. The baby lived for 12 hours. In both cases, the parents were comfortable with their decision, and the outcomes. And… more noteworthy… both women had been trying to get pregnant, so they did want their children. Neither couple wanted to terminate their pregnancy.
I just don't understand how a person of faith can have the audacity to tell a woman, who may be just as faithful, that she doesn’t have the right to save her own life. Isn't that playing God? Aren't you trying to force a decision on someone according to your beliefs? Remember, they are only your beliefs, because there is nothing in the Bible about abortion. Why are your beliefs more valid than hers? What gives you the right to make life and death decisions for other people? And if you do have that right, why doesn’t the mother, who's life is in danger, have the same right?
And now the Republican party is trying to stack the Supreme Court with justices who will outlaw abortions again. Do we really want to see the crime rate go back up? Do we really want to over burden the foster care program more than it already is? Do we really want to spend our money to ensure unwanted children are born, when we have children already born who need our help? Is that really what you want?
A 2016 PEW survey found that 69% of the American population does not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/03/about-seven-in-ten-...
Do you really want Trump to stack the Supreme Court so we can outlaw abortions again??
WHY???

Comment by Donald L. Engel on December 4, 2018 at 10:59pm

.

Society sets the moral code. The PEW survey illustrates that by far the great majority of society is happy with the Roe v. Wade decision, and yet the religious right wants to control society, and overturn that decision. President Trump picked Neil Gorsuch for the sole purpose of overturning Roe v Wade. He stated that was his purpose for picking him.
At the beginning of this paper I stated that I felt a moral act is that act which does the most good, or the least amount of harm. I want to point out the cost of raising a child in foster care using Washington state, and Texas as examples:
WASHINGTON TEXAS
AGE $$/MONTH $$/YEAR AGE $$/MONTH $$/YEAR
0-5 $562 $33,720 0-5 $748 $44,880
6-11 $683 $49,176 6-12 $852 $71,568
12-20 $703 $59,052 13-20 $961 $92,256
Total per child $141,948 $208,704

If we outlaw abortions again, the crime rate will go back up, and we’ll be spending more on foster care. And that means we’ll be spending more on children who are not wanted instead of putting that money toward health and education for children who are wanted. (I want to emphasize that all children in the foster care program are not there because they are not wanted. Most are there because a problem of some sort developed in their home family.)
Moral codes change over time with new information. Churches are closing down by the thousands, and the percentage of Atheists in America is growing. Maybe it’s because the church has stopped following society’s changing moral code. Maybe that is why the Catholic church has reduced the seriousness of abortion.

Comment by Loren Miller on December 4, 2018 at 7:30pm

Don, you could post it as a series of blog entries, or as a single blog.  I THINK the size limit on blogs is 50,000 bytes, but I'm not certain.  Making it episodic might also make it easier to digest.

P.S.: GOOD seeing you again!

 
 
 

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