19 July 2009


Another Bishop Annoys

I listened to the Sunday Programme on Radio 4 today (I think I must be a repressed masochist) and was annoyed by a wimpish interview with the Bishop of Exeter who spouted a lot of nonsense that went unchallenged.

Would John Humphries let a politician off the hook with no questioning of illogical claims?

He had been invited on as he was one of the principal opponents, in the Lords debate, to Lord Faulkner's attempt to remove the threat of prosecution for assisting in suicide when people accompany friends or relations abroad, who wish to end their lives, where assisted suicide is legal.

He argued that the main motive for people wanting to commit assisted suicide was the loss of dignity, which he defined as an inability to contribute to life and society together with total dependency on others.

The Bishop then pointed out that this applied to babies. The analogy is ridiculous. The prospect for a baby is that it will grow and mature into an adult who can enjoy and contribute to life as an independent being. Babies are also intellectually undeveloped and so unaware of their situation and relatively easy to support.

The prospect for an adult with a terminal illness, or of advanced old age, is for a boring, uncomfortable and possibly painful life, while being fully aware of their situation and rationally wanting to put an end to it. Also a dependent adult is a much more difficult body to service and while a baby doesn't have any problem with someone changing their nappy, a mature adult does.

He then went on about how the right to life was innate and God given. "If life has no objective value why should any of us care for one another"?

How daft can you get. We look after each other on a reciprocal basis under the golden rule. Hence it is sensible that if a "compos mentis" adult, together with those who normally support him or her, have concluded that life is no longer worth living, then there can be no objection to ending that life.

To put this in perspective, a couple of theologians were discussing the "Just War" later in the programme and concluded that killing women and children as "collateral damage" could be justified so long as it is proportionate. So it would seem that it is perfectly OK to kill healthy people when it is convenient to the state, but not to allow people in poor health, who are already dying, to shorten their lives a little.

This Bishop then stated that psychologists had identified 5 stages that individuals go through when they know they have a terminal illness.

He said that most people want to end their lives at the "depression" stage and advocated their passing through this to achieve "acceptance", presumably for the good of their soul. As a Humanist, who doesn't believe he has an eternal soul, I'm quite happy to skip the "acceptance" bit and what right has he to tell anyone when they can jump off this mortal coil?

For more on the Church and its position on assisted suicide see this letter from The Rev’d Canon Eric MacDonald to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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I couldn't agree more with this. The arrogance of these people who decide what compos mentis adults must have, based on beliefs that those individuals do not share, just beggars belief.

If someone wants to let their "God" decide, then that is up to them, just don't let them force their beliefs onto others. Those of us who believe we should have the right to die at a time of our own choosing (and who do not worry about our "eternal soul") do not try to force our beliefs onto those who want to let "God" decide. They should offer us the same respect. What makes me smile (an ironic smile, you understand!) is that if the time of death is left to nature, many lives would be shorter than currently as terrific pain often results in shock and early death. Maybe those who want to leave the time of death to "God" should try it His way and refuse medication! Of course, that would be their choice to make, not anyone else's.
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