How the nationwide release of names of Jesuit priests accused of sexual abuse affects Utah

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  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 14, 2018 5:30 a.m.

    @Ranch;

    I engaged in no circular reasoning and made no assumptions about God's existence or moral preferences. I accepted, for the sake of argument, the claim that there can be a moral conscience in the absence of a god and took that claim to its logical conclusion.

    If there is no god, then what we perceive as moral conscience is just biochemical processes in the brain developed over eons through evolution.

    Evolution is not guided by what we call morality. It rewards survival; ; it makes no judgements about survival tactics; it doesn't care if anyone disapproves of those tactics.

    Therefore, if there is no god, what we call morality is just a temporary social framework and "moral conscience" is just those biochemical processes responding to the social conditioning imposed by that framework. And violating the social framework because it's in someone's survival interest to do so is no more immoral than a lion devouring an antelope on the Serengeti so it can eat.

    That's the logical conclusion. Either there a higher power that defines objective morality or there is an unthinking universe that doesn't care how we treat each other or what we think of each other's behavior.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 13, 2018 9:44 p.m.

    @Ranch,

    My response does none of the things you claim. I made no assertions about God's existence or what He says is good/bad/moral/not-moral. What I did was explore your claim that a moral conscience can exist independent of any god having instilled it in us.

    If there is no god, then the "moral conscience" must be a chemical/biological process in the brain that is a product of evolution. (Is there an alternative I'm missing there?) Evolution is not guided by any moral framework. It just rewards beneficial physical/chemical/biological change with survival; and the universe and evolution don't care what survival tactics I use, nor do they care if other other people disapprove of my survival tactics. Survival itself becomes the highest ethical principle and any other "moral" frameworks that seek to define right and wrong become meaningless outside of humanity's social constructs. And since evolution is always at work, that brain process will change over time and, therefore, the "moral conscience" will change too, giving our descendants very different ideas about what is right and wrong.

    That's the logical conclusion of the atheist's philosophy vis-a-vis morality.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 13, 2018 8:50 p.m.

    There needs to be a lot more pressure on the Catholic Church over how it handles those accused of sexually abusing adults they have authority over. This is very much illustrated by the fall from grace of a Cardinal who abused adult priests not having lead to wider investigations and reforms.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 11:49 a.m.

    @mhenshaw;

    You make assumptions that there is a "god" and then you try to reason your way to a logical conclusion about what it says is good/bad/moral/not-moral.

    The only thing your circular reasoning is going to get you is tied up in knots.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 13, 2018 11:30 a.m.

    >> Those who are/have/use a "moral conscience" without need/fear of a "higher power" do it simply because it's the right thing to do, not because they're afraid of their "eternal soul"

    If there is no God to instill a moral conscience in us, then where does conscience come from? Atheists claim it just a product of evolution, nothing more than a chemical process in the brain; but chemical processes in the brain cannot have any meaningful tie to any objective philosophical standard of right and wrong. So that claim necessarily reduces "conscience" to an evolutionary survival mechanism. If so, then "the right thing to do" can only be objectively defined as "any action that enhances survival in any given moment." All other definitions of right and wrong become equally valid because they are equally self-delusions.

    Simply put, the universe doesn't care if I use brute force to take your stuff, nor does it care if you disapprove of me (or my clan/tribe/city/state/nation) using brute force to take your stuff. If "conscience" is just chemical processes, then you have no objective moral grounds to object when someone decides that taking your stuff will enhance their survival chances.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 10:05 a.m.

    @mhenshaw;

    If you need a "higher power" in order to have a "moral conscience" then you really don't have one at all. Those who are/have/use a "moral conscience" without need/fear of a "higher power" do it simply because it's the right thing to do, not because they're afraid of their "eternal soul". Those who do it simply out of fear, well, they're probably the ones who would do evil in this world if they weren't so afraid.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 13, 2018 7:08 a.m.

    >>Believers, you do not have the moral high ground. You do not have the copyright, patent, nor exclusive source of morality. Countless millions of nonbelievers are at least as moral, decent, good, and ethical as you.

    Of course most nonbelievers are moral, decent people. No one's disputing that.

    The issue is that atheists face a significant problem with their philosophy vis-a-vis morality--if there is no god, no higher source of objective truth, then morality is a purely human construct with no foundation beyond what any generation thinks is right or wrong at the moment. If the universe doesn't care what we do to each other and the species is going to die out with the heat death of the universe (if not before), then there are no eternal consequences to any choices we make. So the decision of which moral code to follow becomes grounded in how well we think it delivers short-term survival and pleasure, and prevents pain and death. That evaluation inevitably leads to "might makes right."

    So there's a hidden caveat to the claim that "countless millions of nonbelievers are at least as moral...as you" because the atheist philosophy makes morality a malleable and moving target.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 9, 2018 2:17 p.m.

    "Indeed, without religion, there would be little moral compass."

    Nonsense! That is exactly the kind of arrogant, presumptuous statement that is fueling the reaction against religion.

    And that is the result is the imprimatur of religion.

    It is well past time for a mass iconoclastic movement against such irrational, unsupported, biased assumptions.

    Believers, you do not have the moral high ground. You do not have the copyright, patent, nor exclusive source of morality. Countless millions of nonbelievers are at least as moral, decent, good, and ethical as you.

    And we don't need a fictitious god looking over our shoulder!

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Dec. 9, 2018 10:34 a.m.

    Any Catholic priest convicted of sexual assault should be excommunicated! And let God deal with him.

  • stand up for truth Lehi, UT
    Dec. 8, 2018 2:59 p.m.

    Well it was predictable who would jump on this article as a bully soap box to attack religions. And true to colors one atheist in particular came through. '

    Look, there are certainly lots of deviants among those who profess religion. But it is not the religion that teaches it is okay to commit sin, it is the weakness of individuals who fail to adhere to their beliefs.

    Indeed, without religion, there would be little moral compass. I believe the fact that sexual crimes are punishable in our society is, in large, because of the impact religion has on our societal thinking and thus our laws. Strip these away and there would be little to protect children in this instance.

    Thank God this country is based on Christian-Judeo principals.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 8, 2018 11:15 a.m.

    "Easily verified facts for the honest. Those with a personal ax to grind are rarely persuaded by facts."

    Indeed, I am pleased you see your own bias so clearly.

    "...in 2009 there a total of 6 credible allegations of priest sexual abuse across the entire USA Catholic Church of some 65 million members."

    That is not a "fact", nor even an honest presentation of data! That is a bit of biased, selected opinion with a few numbers sprinkled in to give the illusion of "data", especially when you use the evaluative language of 'credible" allegations.

    And it certainly does not support the purely speculative, biased opinion/conclusion that "a child is at much higher risk of sexual abuse by a secular government school employee than he is by a member of the clergy in the US, Catholic, Protestant, LDS, or other."

    What IS a fact -- established, supported by data, and to which the Jesuits (and others) have confessed -- is that horrible abuse was covered up for decades by the Church!

    As such, nobody (especially you) really knows how much abuse has gone on or what the probabilities are!

    But the imprimatur of religion biases your opinion. And that was my point.

    Set down your ax. Look at facts.

  • Tim Flaherty Gilbert, AZ
    Dec. 8, 2018 9:22 a.m.

    @ The Athiest

    Athiest - "Public schools are not strictly "secular". They are dominated by teachers, staff, administration, and students who are religious, just as in society at large. As such, it is disingenuous and a distortion to characterize them as purely "secular" in a futile and biased effort to deflect blame from abusive religious leaders."

    To your point that schools are "dominated by teachers, staff, administration, and students who are religious" - an unsubstantiated statement pulled out of thin air - religions also are dominated by people who are religious. At yet in one of the two segments of society - the schools - there is a much higher likelihood of sexual misconduct.

    And what is it that differentiates the two segments of society - schools and Churches? The schools have completely removed God from the campus making it almost a crime to even hint at religiosity. Is it no wonder then, that schools that are "dominated by...people who are religious" but who are forced to stifle their religion, pose a greater risk to our children than do our churches that are likewise dominated by people who are religious?

    My name is Tim Flaherty and I approve of this message.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 8, 2018 5:26 a.m.

    "No one will defend pedophile clergy." (sic)

    The bias in favor of religion that so many irrational zealous supporters display, is because of the imprimatur they enjoy, and it results in deflecting, minimizing and covering their crimes and sins.

    Which is what your comment does.

    Public schools are not strictly "secular". They are dominated by teachers, staff, administration, and students who are religious, just as in society at large. As such, it is disingenuous and a distortion to characterize them as purely "secular" in a futile and biased effort to deflect blame from abusive religious leaders.

    But, of course, if reason and facts truly dominated our discourse, such bias and fallacy would never be an issue. Leave it to the religious to distort the issue with apologetics.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 7, 2018 5:26 p.m.

    @The Atheist:

    No one will defend pedophile clergy. And no doubt the Catholic Church failed to handle allegations as they should have in the past.

    But before piling on churches, we might remember that according to a 2004 study for the US Department of Education, sexual abuse in public secular schools is 100 times more common (per capita) than is sexual abuse from clergy, with 9.6% of students being victims of educator sexual misconduct at some point in their school careers.

    In contrast, while the clergy sexual abuse was a serious problem from the 1960s through the 80s, in 2009 there a total of 6 credible allegations of priest sexual abuse across the entire USA Catholic Church of some 65 million members.

    Simply put, today, a child is at much higher risk of sexual abuse by a secular government school employee than he is by a member of the clergy in the US, Catholic, Protestant, LDS, or other.

    Easily verified facts for the honest. Those with a personal ax to grind are rarely persuaded by facts.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Dec. 7, 2018 4:55 p.m.

    Church leaders enjoy the imprimatur of their religions. As such, the crimes and sins of those Church leaders directly reflect upon the (lack of) moral authority of the religions themselves.

    By contrast, non-believers enjoy no imprimatur from any (non)-religion, and their crimes and "sins" reflect only on themselves.

    "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God."

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Dec. 7, 2018 3:18 p.m.

    Pedophilia is evil, that's the only way I can see it. It happens in all religions. They all should be named publicly, why aren't they.