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Washington, D.C., approves ‘Death With Dignity Act’

WASHINGTON (RNS) The City Council in the nation’s capital has overwhelmingly voted for a bill that would allow terminally ill people a medically assisted death.

That makes Washington, D.C., the sixth jurisdiction nationwide to approve what opponents often call “physician-assisted suicide.” The bill would legalize it for those who have six months or less to live, who do not suffer from depression and who request the option several times.

Councilmember Mary Cheh. Photo courtesy of Council of the District of Columbia

Council member Mary Cheh. Photo courtesy of Council of the District of Columbia

“It allows someone who is on death’s doorstep the option to choose a peaceful death,” council member Mary Cheh, the sponsor of the bill, said just before the Tuesday (Nov. 1) vote.

“To deny it to those who competently choose it is simply to prolong the process of death, to prolong suffering, to rob a person of autonomy, and in some cases to simply impose one’s own moral or religious choice on another person,” she said.

The council passed the measure 11-2 on a voice vote, with dissenters asking that their names be recorded.


READ: Five things to know about death-and-dying debates


The debate leading up to the vote delved into a topic of profound moral disagreement throughout America. Many religious groups that believe death should rest only in God’s hands consider the practice sinful.

Opponents also fear that elderly, disabled and poor people could be pressured into agreeing to their own premature deaths.

Some African-Americans in what was until recently a majority-black city argued in the months before the vote that poor and elderly blacks in this quickly gentrifying town are particularly vulnerable to such abuses.

But several African-American members of the council, speaking before they cast votes in favor of  the “Death With Dignity Act,” drew upon personal experience.

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. Photo courtesy of Council of the District of Columbia

Council member Kenyan McDuffie. Photo courtesy of Council of the District of Columbia

“My family had to watch him suffer,” council member Kenyan McDuffie, choking back tears, said of the death of his father. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody else.”

He called his decision “my toughest vote in four and a half years in this body.”

Council member Yvette Alexander, who voted “no” on the bill, said she put aside religious or moral objections in her deliberations. “That is subjective and it means different things to different people.”

Rather, she said, she feared that physician-assisted dying could not be properly monitored and that it would foster mistrust between the medical community and residents.

She suggested before the vote that the council was not the proper place to decide the question.

“Given the nature of this bill, being a literal life-or-death issue, I believe this is a matter that is best left to the decision of the residents of the District of Columbia by adding it as a referendum on the ballot,” Alexander said, noting that the state statute on which the Washington, D.C., measure is modeled — Oregon’s — was approved by referendum.

Cheh said no matter how heartfelt or oft-repeated the fears of abuse, the evidence for such concerns is baseless.

The D.C. council is expected to take a final vote on the measure during the next few weeks. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she expects it to become law.

In addition to Oregon, physician-assisted death is legal in four other states: California, Washington, Vermont and Montana.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

88 Comments

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  • It’s too late now. That law is on the books to stay.

    Memo to all residents of CA, OR, WA, VT, MT, and DC: Don’t get old.

  • “who do not suffer from depression”

    So only those with depression have to face that terrifying and quite possibly extremely painful fatal fate, with no legal recourse, and no right to “die with dignity”.

    Mentally healthy? No problem. Schizophrenia? No problem. But depression? No mercy — gotta suffer.

    Then again… How many people DON’T get depressed upon learning they have six months or less to live?

  • The need for safeguards does not justify allowing people to suffer needlessly. If a person wants to manage their own end of life choices, it is immoral to limit those choices simply because someone else’s religion says it’s a sin.

  • Memo to all residents of CA, OR, WA, VT, MT and DC: you no longer have to suffer a prolonged and agonizing death just because followers of iron age religion say human suffering pleases their imaginary God.

  • You realize that this isn’t an argument against “death with dignity”. Just one for stringent regulation of it

  • You aren’t actually making an argument against the law. Yes elder care necessitates careful regulation to avoid abuse. But that doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be done here.

  • I think your comment is very insightful … all of these questions — even what is “suffering” are like answers blowing in the wind…and humanity seems to set its sails in whatever direction that may lead and forever debating its own non-decision.

  • Please define “suffering”… please define “religion” … please define “prolonged” … please define “human” …please define “love” … and please let me know how your definitions are any more absolutely correct or even as incorrect as those of your so called “iron age religion”.

  • “Then again… How many people DON’T get depressed upon learning they have six months or less to live?” And that would be someone who doesn’t know Jesus and the help that He can offer. My dad was healed of lung cancer.

  • Absolutely Linda. The elderly are afraid they are a burden and many family members purposely, and some not purposely, help them to believe that

  • You might want to check the definitions of “murder” and “suicide” – in a dictionary or U.S. law and not the bible.

  • To all Christians: if our US or state laws violate your beliefs or conscience I agree with your right to not obey them.

  • Correction please:
    Your source has done you a disservice. The promoters of assisted suicide have worn out their thesaurus attempting to imply that it is legal in Montana. Assisted suicide is a homicide in Montana. Our MT Supreme Court did ruled that if a doctor is charged with a homicide they might have a potential defense based on consent. The MT Supreme Court acknowledged it is a homicide in the ruling.

    The Court did not address civil liabilities and they vacated the lower court’s claim that it was a constitutional right. Unlike Oregon no one in Montana has immunity from civil or criminal prosecution, death certificates are not legally falsified and investigations are not prohibited like in OR, WA and CA. Does that sound legal to you?

    Perhaps the promoters are frustrated that even though they were the largest lobbying spender in Montana their Oregon model legalizing assisted suicide bills have been rejected in Montana in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

    Your source has done the public a disservice. Their ordinary bait and switch campaign is demonstrated by their selling “must self-administer” then they do not provide in their legislation for an ordinary witness of the “self-administration”.
    The difference is that a witness would honor individual rights and choices, without a witness it allows euthanasia. If the individual changed their mind no one would ever know. And we know that 30% do change their mind according to Oregon’s records
    This omission eviscerates the flaunted safeguards putting the entire population at risk of exploitation by the medical-industrial-complex, organ traffickers and predatory heirs.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Bradley Williams
    President
    Mtaas dot org

  • I would rather suffer, now, and unite my suffering with Christ on the Cross then waste it. Suffering cleanses the soul when united with Christ’s suffering. Colossians 1:24: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church;…

  • well said Tabitha, I totally agree with this. I’ve been a nurse-midwife for 45 years and I’ve seen enough !!! They euthanize sick people even without the people’s consent so the hospital bills can go down !!!

  • My definitions are my definitions. They apply to me. That’s the point. You do not get to decide for me whether I will spend my last months in agony. This is my choice.

    You get to decide for yourself the end of life care that is best for you.

    This is freedom.

  • This law is not for people who are simply old. It is for people diagnosed with a painful and terminal condition who choose not to spend their last months on earth screaming in pain.

    If you want to make a different choice, that freedom is yours. But you do not get to deprive others of choice just because you would choose differently.

  • Good. I have cared for sick and dying people many times as part of my work. I’m glad they get to decide when they’ve suffered enough.

    I agree that careful monitoring is necessary. The Republican legislators who have slashed social services budgets need to getting them back up to the levels necessary to erase the backlogs and protect vulnerable adults and children. Sec. Clinton’s plan to raise taxes on the top tiers is a good example for the states.

  • You are correct — we now live in a world where “my definition is my definition” and I don’t give a rat’s behind what anyone else’s definition is. I live in “Freedom”. You might call it that. But not giving a darn about what others call it is maybe “selfishness” or a “totally me generation”.. I am my own freedom and that really means I have very limited freedom. Many people call freedom all escape from any responsibility — including one that might ask, “Am I my brother or sister’s keeper?” So now, everyone is an island.
    I personally believe there should more palliative care, and such care should involve more not less family care. It will mean staying by the bedside of the one dying. It will mean involving oneself in another person’s dying not escaping from it. Holding their hand, being there, maybe praying with them, as the nature of creation takes them from this existence.
    Palliative care is wonderful, if we stand with the person in their dying moments and not simply as an excuse to selfishly push them off the bridge because we don’t want them to be a “burden”.
    PS: So, if I love you, according to your self-definition of “agony” my feelings of love do not count — like deciding if this “agony” is only something you can feel and only you have a say so, and although I love you and have loved you during your life, I no longer count. Peace and good luck.

  • If we have learned anything from
    “Near-Death experiences” it is that killing oneself is a huge mistake and leads to Hell.

  • With modern methods of pain control, it is possible to control pain. No one need spend time “screaming in pain”.

  • Agree Tabitha, And remember Jesus said that we must accept our own crosses of suffering and death in order to follow Him to heaven. Many near-death experiencers who had attempted suicide report that they were made to see that this was the biggest mistake they could have made; one that would have led them to Hell.

  • I find it interesting that this idea of “death with dignity” is often proposed as throwing off the shackles of Religious morality particularly Christian as if Christian morality has no relationship to “human morality” or other religions, such as Islamic or Jewish, morality! Mother Teresa was recently criticized by “the secular moralists” for providing inadequate medical care for the people she picked off the streets. Her answer was that her sisters were not practitioners of medicine although they used whatever medical resources they had at hand, such as clean water, to comfort a person in their dying. Mother Teresa and her sisters were not there to provide what medicine could possibly provide, they neither had the resources or medical training. They were intervening to lift people from the streets and simply treat them in a human, or christlike way of love. They were simply showing respect to the dying person. Being with them in their final moments. The Dominican Hawthorne Sisters from New York did and do the same for people with incurable cancer.
    For all those who in these delicate issues cite Christianity as a problem, I say examine your motives for what you are saying. Examine your motives for why you may or may not be willing to sit with a person as they die. Many people, including so called intellectuals and politicians, think they are so smart and enlightened when they criticize the values of religion and think themselves intellectually superior to those who remain tethered to any organized religion especially Christian – although it is somewhat fashionable to convert to Islam.

  • You have a hang up about religion and sin — get a life! There are legal restrictions on going where you seem to be going, and those legal restrictions are there for good reason, not religious or “sinful” reason. Not any law in the US is a religious law. If it is a law it is secular — try to sue someone for committing “a sin”. Someone goes to jail not for committing a sin but for committing a crime. Perhaps we should simply get rid of secular society and all secular laws and you could continue with you absurd world of complete self-definition.

  • Are you sure you intended your reply to me? I ask because I have sat with dying people many, many times. I’ve also helped families decide what to do for a deathly ill or injured family member who is unable to contribute to the decision-making process. The latter is an especially searing struggle requiring enormous courage on the part of the family.

  • You aren’t giving a reason why a well regulated system which requires clear consent and oversight can’t or shouldn’t be implemented here.

    Personally I am not a big fan of assisted suicide. Thinking it is far more ethical for people to do this sort of thing themselves. But I can understand the sentiment for it.

  • Then a personal argument. The problem with the concern of abuse is the hysterical nature of it. Not everyone in terminal care is elderly. Elder abuse also is more likely with people who would not make viable candidates for assisted suicide. Those whose mental facilities and ability to consent are compromised. It is more likely to be for people with terminal conditions and less than a year to live. Your average terminal cancer patient is middle aged people or younger. Not the people who would be in elder care.

    “When these unfortunate milestones happened, clients most often found hope on the other side and reason to continue, especially with good care, companionship and pain management.”

    I am pretty sure if such people wanted to end their lives in earnest, they had a means of doing so whether legal or not.

  • I guess we have begun the re-definition of the issue by removing the word “suicide.” So prejudicial.

  • For those of us who believe that suicide is against the law of God we should not have to worry because if someone does this to us it is not our sin. As long as we don’t consent to it then we are not responsible for what other people do to us. I know it is horrible to watch someone you love suffer terribly because I took care of my mom when she was dying of pancreatic cancer. I tried to make sure she was given enough pain medicine and was as comfortable as possible. As Christians we believe that pain has meaning because Jesus who we believe is God chose pain to redeem us. Well, I know this is not everyone’s belief but it is mine and others also. I hope it can be respected but if not we do not have control over what someone else does to us. God bless all!

  • I’m not a fan of suicide assisted or otherwise, but as one who has contemplated it on numerous occasions, I would prefer people effect it without the aid of government or the medical profession, but if such must be the case, I would hope for the strictest protocols possible.

  • A sound argument, however personal (re:Spuddie) based on professional experience which should carry a certain amount of weight in any argument. The three stipulations you cite make all the difference in the world, “good care, companionship, and pain management.”

  • your philosophical relativism is precisely what is wrong with your thinking. There are transcendent truths and absolutes no matter how much you deny them for your own convenience, that is merely a moral and philosophical dead end. There are effective means for dealing with end of life difficulties as is amply declared by Linda Daily

  • Sometimes the best help is to ease the transition from life to death, humanely, lovingly and with immense regret but knowing it is the necessary consequence of our love for the terminally ill.

    I’ve been there.

    Legally.

    I held our dog whilst the vet eased her out of her pain and confusion. A tricolour, rough coated Parson Jack Russell who had been a wonderful companion (unless you were a rat), energetic, playful and affectionate had become confused and frustrated, doubly incontinent, almost immobilised, blind and deaf from a massive cancer. It was not murder; it was the final debt we owed her for years of companionship.

    Tell me why it is right (as it must be) to do this for a much-loved dog but not for a truly-loved partner, family member or friend who, being of sound mind, requests assistance to do that which they long to do for themself. I hope to avoid being in this position, but a stroke etc. could remove the ability to act as and when I want.

    Bottom line – it’s my life. I didn’t ask for it but I’ve done the best I can with it. It doesn’t belong to my kith and kin, it doesn’t belong to the state and it sure as heck doesn’t belong to indoctrinated people who have no knowledge of me or my situation.

    Effective safeguards – yes, control – no.

  • We are not animals, my friend, although I love my pets dearly. People can voice pain and how much they can tolerate, and we have wonderful drugs that will ease that pain.
    “Euthanasia” is murder

  • Wrong – we are, of course, animals. Human animals rather than canine animals I’ll grant you, but animals just the same. We have a brain which has developed in different ways to those of dogs and provides us with abilities they do not have, they in turn are superior to us in many ways – it’s just that we have both successfully adapted to different niches within the environment.

    I don’t see that respect for life, pain and a decent death depends upon which species is being discussed.

    My mother died in a nursing home owned and run by a religious organisation. When it was clear that she was in terminal pain I was promised that they would ensure that she had no more pain. We both (the matron and I) knew that meant that she would be treated with higher and higher doses of painkiller until the dosage became so high that her system would be unable to take it. In effect, over four days, she was medicated to a non-traumatic death (with my full support – she wanted to die).

    Do you think that my mother’s managed, dignified death was somehow wrong, if so why? If not, how is her death different to assisted suicide?

  • I’m sorry hon, but God elevated us above animals. Only God has the right to life and death, hon. That is not our, our family, nor our doctor’s decision.

  • Sandi – Why do you think this God is so unquestionable that you can’t see the unresolvable conflict that is inherent in your belief?

    You have invented an omnipotent creator who screwed up bigtime – even though he’s supposed to have known in advance that his efforts would turn out badly. Then he apparently creates a web of misinformation and hides behind a mess of muddled revelations just to make it difficult for his creation to achieve the result he’s supposed to want. A result he allegedly wants so desperately that he commits partial, temporary suicide.

    Why do you have so little regard for yourself that you debase your humanity before a fiction – a God who is rationally impossible.

    Any being which has the ability to alleviate pain and suffering and idly stands by watching is not just immoral – it’s also wicked. Doesn’t matter whether it’s another human being or some deity who hides from the mess he has created – the refusal to intervene to limit pain is evil.

    There is nothing supernatural about life or death – they are natural events occurring in a natural world.

    Assisted suicide, like marriage and parenthood, should be available to those who seek it. Those who do not seek it should ignore it. Neither group has any moral right to impose their views/actions on the other.

    My life to live, my death to die.

  • I’m sorry to read you are so lost and angry. No wonder you don’t feel your life has any value. Jesus loves you honey, and you are valuable.

  • “As long as we don’t consent to it then we are not responsible for what other people do to us.”

    If a terminally ill patient choose death with dignity, they are making that choice for themselves. They aren’t doing anything to you.

  • Prejudicial? How so? Whether you call it “death-with-dignity”, “physician-assisted suicide”, or some other term, it is a good thing to grant people personal autonomy and the power of personal choice over how much they are willing to suffer.

  • You have no evidence that hell exists OR the ending one’s life commits a person to such a place. Physician-assisted suicide is not done casually; patients who are already at death’s door without possibility of recovering deserve the right to end their own suffering and to leave this life on their own terms.

  • And you have no evidence that Hell does not exist. Hell is a very real place. Jesus spoke and taught about it.

  • And Harry Potter talked about Lord Voldemort, too. But we know that it’s all just fiction and make-believe.

  • Of course it is their own choice. Their body, their choice. Jesus is your own personal religious myth, but not everyone else believes in your Jesus, so they don’t have to have permission from your Jesus before ending their own lives. The problem with you Christians is that you can’t understand that your beliefs are not reality-based and they have no authority over other people.

  • That is your belief, and you can live that way, but you have no right to expect others to live by your beliefs because you have nothing to back it up and no rational reason for anyone else to take you seriously when you write irrational stuff like that.

  • Yes, of course it is a real book. And its contents are really fiction. What you say is simply false. You are welcome to believe the stories are true, but history says otherwise. None of that stuff actually happened. No Adam and Eve, no Great Flood, no walking on water, no water into wine, no talking snakes or donkeys, no slaughter of the innocents, no virgin birth or astrologers from the East, no rising from the dead …. none of it actually happened. There is no record of ANY of it.

  • My biological parents ‘created’ me. You continue to pretend your beliefs have any basis in fact. Stop it. Grow up, already. If you’re old enough to type on the Internet, you are too old for Invisible Friends.

  • Sadly (for you, anyway), Biblical scholars, archaeologists, historians, and scientists of many disciplines are forced by the evidence (or rather, lack of evidence) to declare the Bible is false. There is simply nothing to support your claim, no matter how often you repeat it. The Bible itself is not evidence; it is a bunch of claims without any supporting evidence.

  • Sandi, I appreciate your concerns and I always welcome prayer. OK is a relative term, many years ago I decided to predicate my life on a few basic spiritual precepts. A specific scripture that spoke to me early in my Christian walk was Paul’s advice to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can take nothing out, having food and raiment let us therewith be content.” I therefore purposed that I would not seek ambitious dreams and worldly wealth, but seek to leave humbly and trust God for the basic necessities of life. At the same time despite an earnest heart I have continued to struggle with sin of one sort or another through 40 years of Christian endeavor, I do not believe in the doctrine of perfectibility, though I naturally expect that one should mature, grow, and minimize to some extent the natural inclinations that plague the fleshly body and mind. So I struggle, and the past couple of years have been greatly difficult, despite my humble hopes, my wife, daughter and I have suffered recurring setbacks both financially and in our health and it has become easy to feel quite discouraged, and wonder if our difficulties as a family are somehow a function of God’s displeasure at my inability or unwillingness to walk more cleanly before Him. At the same time, God has never failed to provide us with abundant food and warm, secure housing, so to this point I suspect that God is testing my heart; do I really trust Him to meet our needs as promised in his Word, or have I been fooling myself, hiding doubt beneath a veneer of faith. I hold a job I dread, that I am loath to lose, because at 58 years of age with few truly valuable skills I can’t imagine what a difficulty it would be to find a good job with decent compensation at my age. These are the things that trouble me, this in combination with the depression I have suffered all my life are the locus of the siren song of suicide that often beckons me. Though I do not believe that suicide meets the case of “the unforgivable sin,” I don’t think I will ever actually test it for fear of error. I would much rather continue to profess the goodness of God and the mercy of His Son. Much difficulty lies in the fact that when I witness to unbelievers who are acquainted with me, the reply often is, “Oh yes, your Christian faith has done wonders for your outlook on life.” But Christ and the faith are not to be judged by my weakness and fears, but rather on the works He wrought, the blood He shed, and the mercies He extends to those that trust Him, even me. These things I bemoan must be a measure of the cross I am called to bear in an uncertain world, Christ has not promised us a life without travail, which is why I am so unhappy with those that promote the unbiblical gospel of prosperity for the elect.
    Now I have run too long and given you much more information than you wanted, and doubtless to the disdain and boredom of those who may read it and who are not sympathetic creatures, believers or not. However, I wanted to give you context for my earlier comments, and I’m grateful you took note of them. If there is anything in what I have written here that says, “Here is something I can prayer about for Edward,” please do. I would be most grateful

  • Dear Edward….
    Have I got a sermon for you! I’ll find it and add it as a link at the end of this.
    You are absolutely correct. God does not promise us an easy life but He does promise to walk through it with us. He will never, never leave us nor forsake us and we sometimes just need to hold onto Him and keep our eyes on His face, eh?
    I’m sorry for your difficulties, and I’m certain that you realize that James 1 answers that. Times of trial and testing come and go – sometimes with the same thing over and over until we get it right.
    If you think about it, Paul had that thorn in his side, and the Lord said that His grace was sufficient for Paul – some things may not be rectified here, eh, but through His grace, we get through until we meet Him who is perfect and loves us with an everlasting love.
    Edward I will pray for you and when I can find the sermon, I’ll pass it to you.
    You and your family will be in my prayers;
    blessings to you.

  • Not lost, my path is deliberate, my goals are rational and my way is joyful.

    Not angry. I’m content with my life and its impact on others. Sometimes I get frustrated when people cannot stand back from their assumptions and see reality.

    My life has considerable value, to me, to my partner and our dog, to family and friends, and to those who express their gratitude for the voluntary efforts I make. There are others to whom my life is valuable, albeit they don’t know it because I choose to help through regular giving to worthwhile (non-religious) aid providers.

    Jesus (in so far as he ever existed) doesn’t love – he’s dead. If he wasn’t dead he would be unable and/or unwilling to react to evil with love, compassion or morality. I prefer the overwhelming likely truth that he’s dead.

  • He reacts to the evil of today with His love and grace, Give. He walked in the flesh after dying. Was raised up so that we too can be raised with Him. Blessings to you.

  • “so that we too can be raised with Him”

    Presumably you feel this is important to you.

    Why?

  • Because I want to honour and worship the only One who deserves Glory. He created us. He blessed us through our life, and He rewards us in the afterlife. I want to honour Him for all He has done for me.

  • Ignoring, for the moment, that you don’t seem to be able to provide any reason why I should believe that you have proof that this “One” exists, why do you think,

    He created us (if He had done so He could have made a better job of it couldn’t He?),

    how do you know that things that have happened to you are blessings rather than mere events that just occurred due to your environment,

    what evidence for you have for an afterlife and

    what sort of reward do you think you’ll get?

  • smiles….you will live a life with trials intended to test your faith, as a Christian. It is not an easy road – anyone who says differently would be lying to you.
    There is the blessing of seeing His word come to life, as it has.
    I have seen my dad healed of cancer – if you want something concrete.
    He created us because He is the Creator or Heaven, the Earth and the seas and all that is in it.
    He died for you, and came back in the flesh afterward to show that He has authority over death.
    He prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies…..
    The “reward” is not as important as seeing Him in person and being able to talk with Him face to face, Give.
    I have never known love like this before.

  • “….you will live a life with trials intended to test your faith, as a Christian”
    I’ve lived most of my life, I was a Christian until I reached an age where I gained the ability to think critically (c. 13) – Christianity didn’t “do what it says on the tin”. It wasn’t that the road wasn’t easy, it was an illusion – a mirage.

    I’m glad your Dad does not have cancer – do you think that your “One” deliberately gave him cancer and how do you know that there was any “one”ish involvement? Did your Dad have medical treatment for his cancer?

    You can’t seriously expect me to be impressed with you trying to justify the statement that the He created me because He created other things, a further creative effort for which you offer no cause and effect evidence.

    You believe He died for me – fine. Not very clever of Him is it; He would have known that I was a lost cause so the sacrifice for me was an unnecessary suicide wasn’t it?

    “He came back in the flesh”! – Sandi, I don’t want to be too harsh but that’s a story, a bit of marketing, an uncorroborated claim which was first made many years after the supposed event by an anonymous writer who used/allowed the use of, a false name. Death is not something anyone has authority over, it’s a simple absence of life, an end to that particular collection of chemical/electrical happenings.

    Why would you need a feast, and why do you still have enemies once you’re in Heaven – is your Him tormenting the people you dislike? One of the reasons I initially suspected Christianity was bogus was my mother’s gleeful anticipation of being in Heaven and watching those she disapproved of suffering eternal torment – my mother was not always a nice lady!

    So, backtrack on the reward angle and substitute having one of millions of simultaneous conversations with Him. Doesn’t impress this old sceptic.

    I don’t doubt your sincerity but love is the product of a chemical reaction within the brain. Those chemicals can be released in a variety of ways and our feelings vary depending upon the type(s) of chemicals and the availability of receptors within the brain. I’m sure you feel what you interpret as love, I doubt you have any evidence that it is in any way related to an actual (as opposed to an imaginary) Him.

    What it comes down to is that you are content to have a blind, second-hand faith, unsupported by evidence, which dictates how you see the world around you. I start at the other end, I try to understand the world around me and, based on the evidence, come to conclusions about how best to live my life.
    Polar opposites. And whilst those positions are maintained there can never be a fusion of religion and the scientific method.

  • ” He would have known that I was a lost cause so the sacrifice for me was an unnecessary suicide wasn’t it?” No one is a lost cause, my friend. Jesus loves you.
    Do you realize that Jesus is God? Did you know that at one time, there were over 500 witnesses to the Lord, after He had been crucified?
    I won’t have enemies in Heaven. Sorry for not being clearer.
    We’re going to be so busy in Heaven praising the Lord and experiencing His love – face to face – that we aren’t going to want to return to hatred and those perishing, unless perhaps to pity them.
    Love is more than a chemical reaction in the brain, my friend. We love God because He first loved us.

    My dad…..they diagnosed him with cancer from an ex-ray and other tests. I asked people to pray for my dad – and mentioned on a friendly Christian website that the family needed prayer – so I don’t know how many people prayed. My husband took my dad for tests – they hadn’t even started the medications yet. I took dad for a ct scan. The put him in – pre medication – and took him out. They repeated the test. He was cancer free – hallelujah. Cancer doesn’t just disappear 6 weeks later.
    Blessings to you and it was lovely to talk with you. BTW you are looking for God to catch up to science’s wisdom when God is waiting for science to catch up to His wisdom. 🙂

  • Sandi – your faith is remarkable – but you base your convictions on beliefs that are not supported by evidence. Not only not supported, some of the evidence we have tends to disprove areas of belief – sometimes totally, sometimes just on the basis of probability.

    Do I realise that “Jesus is God”? – I know that some people think so, I have understood the doctrine of the Trinity (in so far as it can be understood) since childhood.

    “Jesus loves you”

    “there were over 500 witnesses” – Sandi, I grew up reading the Bible daily (with explanations via the Scripture Union), going to church twice a week etc. etc.. Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t make it true, in fact we know that much of it (some of the NT as well) is inaccurate.

    “We’re going to be so busy in Heaven” – glad to hear it though I think boredom would set in early into eternity. As I see it, Heaven could only work one of two ways. Each member having their own virtual Heaven, in which only those they want actually appear, or a Heaven populated with people who have been so modified as to lose all their individuality. Otherwise we would have to put up with all those annoying people who, qualified for Heaven as they may be, we have never actually managed to get on with.
    As a side note, I’d have difficulty praising anyone for ten minutes let alone eternity if they’d had the power to relieve the suffering of billions and had just sat idly by, wouldn’t you?
    Love is more because God loved us? – this really isn’t logical. The description I used is backed up by scientific analysis of carefully designed tests – tests relying on advanced fMRI scans etc. We can be pretty sure that we understand the basis of feelings such as love (we’ve a long way to go before we understand in detail); do you have any equivalent evidence for your comments?

    I don’t know what happened with your Dad, from what you say it could have been a very frightening misdiagnosis – it’s all too common when medics try to err on the side of caution. You believe your God worked a miracle, you have no evidence to support that. It is probable that there was a different, and non-supernatural explanation; without direct evidence we have to admit that we don’t know. Ignorance of a likely explanation doesn’t justify the importation of an unlikely one though.

    These statements are just that, statements of your faith, they are not indicative of truth, simply of belief. Many people of different faiths have the same degree of conviction that you have (some of them even fly planes into buildings because of the strength of their conviction). Being certain is not the same as being right – whether you’re a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, Buddhist, Scientologist or Antitheist. I am not certain, therefore I need good reasons, hard evidence or irrefutable logic, no-one has ever provided that to me, whatever their beliefs.

  • Hon….ah….God bless you…..when the Lord chooses to make Himself known to you, He will. I will pray that He guides and helps you. Blessings to you.

  • Sandi – I really don’t understand.

    Why pray for something if you believe that your God will only do that thing when/if/how He chooses to do it?

    Do you think that your prayer will get Him to change his mind? If He can change his mind because of a prayer does He have to re-jig his perfect plan – and wouldn’t that mean the plan became imperfect?

    A lot of religious thought is irrational isn’t it? Doesn’t mean it has to be wrong of course, but it sure as heck makes it very long odds-on.

  • Give, perhaps I haven’t been clear enough with you….
    I live because of God. He is the reason I breathe…..He is the reason we eat. It is through His goodness and provision.
    I read His word daily because it nourishes me, teaches me about Him and what He expects of me. I love Him and He is my life and reason for being.
    I know that He has my best interests in mind, even when things don’t seem to be going my way, because He loves me and wants what is best for me.
    You may call that second rate, and perhaps I haven’t been clear enough for you….but God has saved my life.
    God will do what He will do. He chose to heal my dad.
    I don’t need to change His mind as He knows what is best. There have been instances recorded where it looked like He did with Abraham, but maybe that was His plan all along….I don’t know.
    God wants a relationship with us, Give. That is why He created us. Jesus calls us “friends”. God is still my Father and I trust Him. His Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.
    I suppose that would seem to be irrational to someone looking in, but if you allow yourself to belong to Him, I think you understand then. I could give you all sorts of scripture on what you are saying, but I don’t think it would help you at this point.
    I strive to be more like Him. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t but that doesn’t stop His love for me.
    I hope this helps you….

  • Sandi – I know where you come from – I used, many years ago as a child, to be there.

    Then I asked myself what reasons – reasons rather than guesses/hopes/beliefs/teachings/indoctrinations – I had for being there.

    I couldn’t find any; I still can’t.

    I don’t understand why a god who cared for humans would demand that they believe before he provides evidence, and then only evidence that is personal and non-transferable. We know that getting people to make an investment (sunk cost) based on unsubstantiated promises encourages false optimism and irrational belief.

    Is it any surprise that those who commit to a lifestyle without good reason but hoping to receive confirmation that the decision is a good one think they get the result they crave? We are very good at seeing cause and effect, it makes our existence safer and easier. Unfortunately we sometimes see cause and effect when the reality is different, often it’s just coincidence.

    Do you think about why your “God chose to heal my dad” but chooses not to heal others, some of them devout believers who pray and are prayed for by many?

    I find your statements difficult to read, not because they trouble my own thinking but because you offer certainty but don’t provide supporting reasons, just a seemingly blind, fact-free, and i’m sure totally genuine, conviction. I don’t doubt your sincerity but everything you say is, to me, the result of a decision to believe. I wonder why you made that decision.

    Best wishes, D.

  • Give….He doesn’t always wait for people to believe before acting – How many people have been converted because of an act of God? And, He gives us the gift of faith before we even have any – it’s a gift from Him.
    I was on an airplane and the plane dropped about 10000 feet, and you should have seen the Bibles come out – lol. They took stewardesses off on gurneys. But, some people were saved because of that. It isn’t always dramatic though.
    Cause and effect – I’ll give you another example, and I trust the Lord shows you this – I was having difficulty with something the last few weeks. I prayed and conveyed my exasperation to the Lord about the issue. The following day, I was led to read something that I had stopped reading for other reasons, and my answer was right there – where I least expected to find it. I’m still amazed. With God, there are no coincidences.
    I cannot prove Him to you, Give. I can only give you experiences that show me His love to me.
    Yes, sometimes I do wonder why the Lord chose to heal my dad but I won’t find out exactly until I meet Him. There is a story in the Bible where a man was blind and was so from birth – the Lord healed him. The disciples asked who had sinned that the man was born blind, and the Lord answered that no one had – this was to show God’s glory. God certainly showed His glory with the cancer being gone to a lot of people.
    I cannot convince you of anything. It takes a step of faith. In 1988, I knew I needed God and without Him I would have been lost and so tied up in bondage only He could have freed me. I turned to Him then and asked Him into my heart and to be my Lord and Saviour. I’ve messed up and backslidden several times, but, like the prodigal, He always takes me in with loving arms. He loves us. He proved that love by dying for us.
    I’ve prayed for you and will continue to
    Blessings.

  • Sandi

    You give me experiences that you believe show something you want to see. They don’t have to mean what you think they do; what you think is, at best, a possible explanation amongst others. You say that with God there are no coincidences; from my point of view the possibility of coincidence prevents the attribution to God. It sounds as though you, like many others, want explanations for everything, provided that they don’t contradict your belief. I, rightly or wrongly, am content to accept that often the solution is “I don’t know”. If there is evidence that is unequivocal I accept it, the situations you offer do not come close to that.

    You say “it takes a step of faith”. Many atheists, as I did, have reached atheism precisely because we took that step of faith and it lead us to a dead end. A situation where we either had to go on trying to convince ourselves and others that that which we hoped to find is real or admit that we’ve been misled and find a path that works for us.

    I have no doubt that social pressures can enable human beings to convince themselves of just about anything. Our sense of ourself, our memory, our view of others; all are stories we tell ourselves and modify as needed to retain a degree of sanity. Our brains are not able to handle all the reality that we sense so we create short-cuts, see false cause-and-effects, invent and adjust “memories”. We also develop “comfort zones”; mental places where we are content, places that we like to escape if we know we can return at will – christianity, at least the versions that offer cheap forgiveness, makes a wonderful “comfort zone”.

    In a way I almost envy you (and my “happy-clappy” sister) your simple convictions; but I can’t shut reason out of my thought processes. You know about reason don’t you – “You cannot be a Christian unless you first pluck out the eye of reason” – Martin Luther.

    You can do faith – I have to do reason.

  • You make me smile…..
    “You say “it takes a step of faith”. Many atheists, as I did, have reached atheism precisely because we took that step of faith and it lead us to a dead end. ” I read that as you rejected Jesus because He didn’t do what you wanted Him to do. Am I correct in that?

  • I speak only for myself.

    No, you’re absolutely wrong (I was a scripturally precocious if somewhat naïve eight year old) – I sought him, I mean I really, really searched; there was absolutely no evidence that Jesus was there. Over the next few years it became inescapably obvious that there were many good reasons for doubt and no worthwhile ones for belief.

    Putting it simply (and there are many other objections to Christianity)

    I was taught that God was all-powerful, all-knowing and that he loves human beings.

    In reality history proves he can’t be all three, perm any two from three but not three out of three.

    If God loved us, knew of human pain and misery and was able to prevent that pain and anguish a loving, caring, moral God would do so. He doesn’t. Therefore he either can’t or won’t.

    The rational explanation is that he doesn’t exist, after all we have neither hard evidence nor need for him, the alternative is that some sort of god exists but is impotent or uncaring – either way something not worth worshiping for sure.

    Unfortunately some religious people are not prepared to keep their faith private, they seek to convert others to their opinion and often use mis-representation (including lying) to do so. I accept that people (including several of my close family members) have faith, I accept that they are convinced that they have “the truth”. But it is not accurate use of the English language when they say that they “know” things that they don’t “know” and it is immoral to use the carrot-and-stick of purely speculative concepts such as Heaven and Hell to frighten vulnerable people.

    If someone is open about their belief we can have a reasonable discussion, when they insist that they have knowledge (but are unable to justify that word) I feel obliged to respond more forcefully. People who make extraordinary claims should be able to produce extraordinary evidence – no-one seems to be able to do so as regards Christian belief.

    Perhaps it’s best we just agree to disagree, since I’m a few hours ahead of you I’m done for tonight.

    I wish you and yours health and contentment, D.

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