Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) forced Rev. Nancy Butler, center, to step down as pastor of the Riverfront Family Church in Glastonbury, CT, during the service on Feb. 14, 2016. Butler died on Dec. 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Mara Lavitt via the Hartford Courant

Americans want assisted suicide

(RNS) On Wednesday (Dec. 7) the Rev. Nancy Butler of Riverfront Family Church in Hartford died voluntarily. For two years she had been suffering the debilitating effects of Lou Gehrig's disease even as she continued to pastor the evangelical church she established in 2008 as "theologically open minded, diverse, empowering women and affirming of LGBT people."

The letter she wrote to her flock last week begins:

I have decided to go off my feeding tube and vent this week and . . . how should I put it . . . die. I knew my suffering would reach this tipping point and caring for me would become impossibly demanding. What I didn't know was whether or not God would want me to suck it up for some unseen purpose or end my life this way.

I am a little surprised God is confirming this decision. Nice to know He isn't a sadist. He is oh so tender right now. He tells me my work is done and it's the right time to come home.

Having a feeding tube removed does not legally count as assisted suicide, but we shouldn't be fooled by the passive voice. Someone took the tube out, very likely a medical professional. Nancy Butler died of her own will, with assistance.

So did my mother, Bernice, who consulted with her internist before deciding to stop eating and drinking six years ago. She was facing a painful death from peritoneal cancer and chose instead to end her life voluntarily. That was not, technically, assisted suicide either.

Assisted suicide is defined as "knowingly and intentionally providing a person with the knowledge or means or both required to commit suicide, including counseling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying the drugs."

Most Americans have no problem with that, so long as the person is facing a painful terminal disease. Indeed, according to a new study from LifeWay Research, fully two-thirds of them find it morally acceptable.

The Rev. Nancy Butler participates in a WNPR radio interview in April 2015.  Photo courtesy of Chion Wolf/WNPR

The Rev. Nancy Butler participates in a WNPR radio interview in April 2015. Photo courtesy of Chion Wolf/WNPR


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

To be sure, a moral distinction can be drawn between providing a person with a lethal drug and withholding or withdrawing treatment or sustenance. But it's a distinction without a difference, as far as most are concerned.

The moral issue, it seems, is not how death comes about but whether the terminally ill get to choose. The answer, increasingly, is yes. That goes for 70 percent of American Catholics, whose church has worked hard and with some success to prevent state approval of assisted suicide laws.

"The concept of physician-assisted suicide is a major affront to the teachings of the church,'' Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, said last year.

But as a matter of public policy, the argument ought to be prudential. Will terminally ill persons be hustled into the next world without their really wanting to be?

The best empirical evidence we have in the U.S. comes from Oregon, where assisted suicide became legal in 1998. Since then, the annual number of legally sanctioned suicides has risen from 16 to 132, with a doubling since 2010.

That's under four percent of Oregonians who died last year. Of them, 72 percent were dying of malignant cancers and 6 percent had Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — as has been the case throughout the history of assisted suicide in the state.

I know that my mother chose what she wanted, and I'm confident that Nancy Butler did too. I'm with most other Americans in not wanting to stand in the way of those terminally ill persons who choose to do the same by way of lethal prescription. I cannot speak for God.

(Mark Silk is professor of religion in public life at Trinity College and director of the college’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He writes the Spiritual Politics column for RNS)

Comments

  1. If our pet is suffering and in pain, dying with no hope of relief, our love and compassion would compel us to end its suffering. Not to do so would brand us a cruel and insensitive. Oh, it’s not the same with people. No it isn’t because a lucid person can communicate his desire to end his life. Very few people would chose to do that as we naturally cling to life. If they do, however, their wishes should be respected. Religious beliefs cannot be a reason to refuse that right to others. I want that option open to me.

  2. Thank you, Mr. Silk, for writing this article. I would like to add my two cents’ worth:

    Re “To be sure, a moral distinction can be drawn between providing a person with a lethal drug and withholding or withdrawing treatment or sustenance. But it’s a distinction without a difference, as far as most are concerned.” — Of course, I can’t speak for most, but I see a critical difference, in that the former shortens suffering, whereas the latter merely fails to prolong it. For those who choose to seek expeditious final relief from medically unrelievable suffering, I call that difference “mercy”.

    Re ” ‘The concept of physician-assisted suicide is a major affront to the teachings of the church,’ Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, said last year.” — Not everyone goes to your church, Mr. Culhane, and any effort to impose “the teachings of” your church upon the rest of us is a major affront to our proprietary rights, moral sensibilities, and spiritual/existential beliefs.

    Lastly, speaking as one for whom stomach flu or food poisoning means a mandatory trip to the ER and 3 or 4 bags of saline, I recommend maintaining hydration even if one chooses to stop eating. Dehydration may hasten one’s intended death, but it will also significantly increase pain during that shorter time.

  3. Only God has the right to life, or death. “Assisted suicide” is liberal newspeak for murder.

  4. If your only argument against it is to call it “liberal newspeak,” then you have no argument whatsoever.

  5. It’s highly unlikely that Ms Butler died from the removal of her feeding tube (enteral or parenteral) which supports life, but isn’t immediately life critical.

    She more than likely died from the disconnection of her ventilator – which is life critical.

  6. I had 2 brothers and 1 uncle who died prolonged and horribly painful deaths from leukemia.I also had a dear friend who suffered horribly for 4 yrs from ALS. This was yrs ago when PAS wasn’t available.

    Until you or a loved one has a painful terminal illness, will you appreciate the right to terminate your own life.

  7. If one’s body is unable to sustain itself without extravagant technical methodologies, I for one, am not certain that the willingness to terminate such extraordinary means of sustaining life can properly be characterized as suicide. In such an event the gracious application of hydration is properly in order. The example cited in this article seems to meet the case. Still, faced with such a prospect, we would all do well, I think, to confirm our standing with and before God, in the name of His Son, before embarking on this final step. Though I have some points of disagreement with Rev. Butler’s gospel, it appears that she made just such an effort.

  8. There is a difference between being kept alive through medical devices, and living with a condition that is unbearable and reaching a point when death seems to be the only answer. It is a very personal decision that in most if not all cases is not reached quickly. I think having medical directives in place before they are necessary is one way to ensure that prolonging life unnecessarily is a wise precaution. I genuinely feel for people who are caught in a cycle of pain and suffering with no hope of respite. I will not judge them for their desire to end their suffering. Medicine can be both a blessing and a curse and it says nothing about it being a sin to refuse medical intervention. Life is a gift, and death can be one too when suffering is prolonged. My high water mark on all this, people can refuse any “treatment” they want to sustain life even if that means hastening death. If a doctor and hospitals can make that decision about any patient why cannot a person make that decision for themselves.

  9. Well, gee….thanks patrick. I had a sister who died at age 32 from 6 years with cancer that stole her hair and left large tumours all over her chest. Not for one minute did I feel she was enough of a burden to wish her dead. Her entire life was precious to me, as much of her as I could handle.
    You make your family feel like a burden so they’ll wish they were dead. I love mine.

  10. How does your self professed heroic care giving efforts equate to the prolonged suffering of your sister? If she wanted to stick around for you, great.
    Stay out of what others determine what’s best for them. It’s not for strangers to step in and mandate care regardless the religious baggage brought along to justify the intrusion.

  11. nope. Christ is the only one with the right to life or death. How does your self professed heroics trying to kill people satisfy your idol?

  12. I’m not trying to kill anyone.
    I also don’t meddle in the lives of those suffering greatly in the later stages of illness. It’s none of my business. I have no right to impose or demand that my particular dogma and its quirks take precedence.
    I sure as hell don’t want my family to deal with me glued to machines. Not fair to either of us so I’ve made the choice for them and detailed it in health directives.

  13. Sure you are trying to kill people. If you are pro-euthenasia, you are condoning murder. Life and death decisions belong to God.
    If the machine is keeping you alive, that is not God. That is man, playing God.

  14. Sandi – I get that you don’t want an assisted death – that’s OK – I don’t want you to have one either. But tell me this – what gives you the right to tell me what I can do or not do with my life?

    I have stage 4 cancer. It is nothing to do with my, boringly “normal”, lifestyle. If I decide to end my life it will be none of your, or anyone else’s, business. A few may be affected, but that is for me to take account of, not you or them.

    Just because you choose to believe in a god whose existence is supported neither by evidence nor logic does not give you the right to determine my future.

    Do you not realise that if you have some sort of right to decide what happens to my life I have the same right to decide what happens to yours. You may want me to suffer pain, I might want to terminate your influence!

  15. I’m minding my own business. You have NO LEGAL options allowing for your interference into my autonomy.
    Your God, your decisions. I’m no longer interested in blind obedience to antiquity as it serves no purpose.
    Feel free to inflict that authoritarian dogma on anyone you chose just don’t be shocked when you get smacked down for being meddlesome and mercenary.

  16. Only God has the right to life and death.
    Give, I will pray for you because of your illness. I will also pray for you that you let God be god – things work much better that way.
    You are a valuable person and although we don’t agree often on these threads, you have an opinion to submit and the Lord has you here for a reason. When He feels you have fulfilled it, He will bring you home.

  17. Just curious, Sandi. Is dialysis also a case of man inappropriately playing God? Is a heart transplant? A blood transfusion? Penicillin? A flu shot? Aspirin?

  18. Having had several long discussions with experts in palliative care, I would offer their experience that it is very rare that pain can not be controlled sufficiently. That does not mean there are not these rare circumstances, but they are very uncommon.
    Putting aside “religious belief” I would offer it from the perspective of compassion. Which is more compassionate; to come alongside the suffering, ease their suffering and pain and offer them love and accompaniment at the end of their life or to offer them a quicker way out for the both of you?
    I would suggest that assisted suicide springs often from seeking something other than compassion. I would not glorify suffering, but it is not the greatest evil, for it offers an opportunity to love, and opportunity to accept the love of another. The word compassion, by itself, means to suffer with…
    The desire for assisted suicide can also arise from fear; of pain, of loss of autonomy, of loss of dignity…. I’m sure many other fears as well; but the ultimate tragedy and indignity and possibly the greatest fear is none of these…the ultimate indignity and tragedy to be unloved. We can do better than this, don’t you think?

  19. I would agree that none of us has a right to interfere in the decision of another on how they live their life, (though some may argue we have a moral obligation to dissuade you from ending your life)

    I do believe we, as a society can decide that no one has a right to aid another in ending their life. That is what this question is really about, and in places where assisted suicide is allowed, abuses are also documented.
    To make someone else complicit in the ending of a life is a different argument.

  20. when dialysis kills people intentionally, I would say yes.

  21. Dialysis permits people who have lost kidney function to live.

  22. Like I said, when dialysis kills people intentionally, I would say yes

  23. Thank you for your comment, but…..ending Christ’s use of a person on Earth for man’s sake is not compassionate. Making a person think they are a burden and should be dead, is not compassionate.

  24. “I do believe we, as a society can decide that no one has a right to aid another in ending their life. That is what this question is really about, and in places where assisted suicide is allowed, abuses are also documented.
    To make someone else complicit in the ending of a life is a different argument.” beautiful statement.

  25. And when dialysis keeps people alive, what would you say?

  26. Sandi Luckins – do you realize how ridiculously cruel your comment is ?

    “….and the Lord has you here for a reason. When He feels you have fulfilled it, He will bring you home. ”

    Very interesting.

    According to UNICEF – About 29,000 children under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day.

    Have these children ” fulfilled ” God’s reason for their being born ?

    During the Black Plague in the Middle Age. some 75,000,000 to 200,000.000 infants – toddlers – teenagers – adult men, women, pregnant women, deacons, nuns, priests, RCC hierarchy, as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus as well as all other Religions were killed as well.

    Did these humans ” fulfill ” your Christian God’s reason as well ?

    The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed from 50,000,000 to 100,000,000 humans.

    Did these humans ” fulfill ” God’s reason as well ?

    According to HHS, in 2012 some 21,000,000 fetuses worldwide suffered miscarriage and died. Your God killed these fetuses.

    Why did your ” Christian God ” kill those humans from different religions – because they were Heretics and deserved to die ?

    Why does your God so torture and prolong the death of so many who are suffering so horribly – especially the children ? Is this some kind of reality show for God’s macabre pleasure ?

    Because He isn’t the warm and loving ” God ” Christians believe Him to be ?

  27. You didn’t ask me but I’ll offer an answer anyway;
    If these things are done against someone’s will, they might be against God’s will. If they are used in a way to prolong or promote further suffering then they can be against God’s will.
    In short, if they are used in a way that is an affront to love of ones neighbor they are against God’s will. Assisted suicide, as it is an alternative to a better, more perfect way of love, is against God’s will….it is a half measure at best

  28. God is Sovereign, patrick….He may not do things the way we think He should and because there is sin in the world a lot of awful things have, will, and are going to happen. I don’t make a point to tell the Lord what He should do. He created us, and He knows what is best. If you see that as uncaring, you’re wrong. There is no better place to be than in the hands of God.

  29. That you are trying to split hairs that have nothing to do with the subject in an attempt to be difficult.

  30. “…very rare that pain can not be controlled sufficiently.”
    Sufficiently controlled might be well and good for one late stage cancer patient but absolutely non-existence for another. Not sure how an expert would make such a “finite” statement. If they mean sufficiently as being just enough narcotics to avoid full respiratory arrest then…
    Watching someone in agony, begging for relief, and doing noting to ease that suffering seems rather evil and not coming from a position of compassion at all. Glorifying the suffering of the terminally ill seems to be exactly what takes place when strangers intrude on the private wishes of a patient and their family. It’s a private matter, period.

  31. Could you define this “use” or purpose? Or does it remain a mystery?

  32. Sufficient means from the standpoint of the sufferer. These experts are caring and compassionate people and your implication is a slander even if unintentional.
    If the intent in administering narcotics is for pain relief, and respiration is suppressed, this is not a immoral. If the intent is to end respiration, this is presents a problem. Intentions matter in morality discussions.

  33. This is so sad.
    I was lucky in that I questioned my belief before I became so invested (look up “sunk cost”) in it that I was trapped in the deceit of the loving-but-hateful, omnipotent-but-useless, moral-but evil, all-knowing-but-incompetent, real-but-unprovable perfectly-successful-failure that is the Christian god.

    “Anyone who asserts that god exists either says that god takes care of the things in the cosmos or that he does not, and, if he does take care, that it is either of all things or of some.

    Now if he takes care of everything, there would be no particular evil thing and no evil in general in the cosmos; but the Dogmatists say that everything is full of evil; therefore god shall not be said to take care of everything.

    On the other hand, if he takes care of only some things, why does he take care of these and not of those? For either he wishes but is not able, or he is able but does not wish, or he neither wishes nor is able. If he both wished and was able, he would have taken care of everything; but, for the reasons stated above, he does not take care of everything; therefore, it is not the case that he both wishes and is able to take care of everything. But if he wishes and is not able, he is weaker than the cause on account of which he is not able to take care of the things of which he does not take care; but it is contrary to the concept of god that he should be weaker than anything. Again, if he is able to take care of everything but does not wish to do so, he will be considered malevolent, and if he neither wishes nor is able, he is both malevolent and weak; but to say that about god is impious. Therefore, god does not take care of the things in the cosmos.

    “Outlines of Pyrrhonism”, Sextus Epiricus (160–210 AD)
    2000 years later and still the only answer offered to “the problem of evil” is submission to irrational belief. Why? Because there is no rational answer.

  34. Of course much pain can be controlled sufficiently – it requires the administration of powerful drugs in ever-increasing dosages which initially remove the sufferer from awareness of their environment (including their pain) and then, when the dosage is increased enough to counter the body’s natural acclimatisation, hastens their death.
    You are kidding yourself if you think that effective pain relief never brings about earlier death than otherwise would occur.

  35. We do not “make someone else complicit in the ending of life”. This is a faux-caring misrepresentation because it suggests compulsion (make).

    I may need to seek the compassionate assistance of someone in order to end my life. I will not be able to make them do anything – if I could I’d be able to die without their help wouldn’t I?

    What is known is that people have travelled from Britain to Switzerland for assistance months earlier than they would have travelled to a local facility. As people become more ill the ability to travel becomes threatened. By refusing to allow local assistance the terminally ill must act earlier than they otherwise would do – so don’t give me crocodile tears about hastening death.

    PS full disclosure – I have a sibling who accompanied a friend to Dignitas.

  36. Should rare people slowly dying in agony, whose beliefs, values, and will differ from yours, have their choice to die denied by your better idea of compassion?

  37. I probably will be “the sufferer”. “Sufficient” would, as you say, be for me to judge.

    You are splitting hairs in your claim about morality.
    The pertinent question is one of informed consent. If I consent to the administration of drugs that may hasten my end that administration is moral. Whether I hope to hasten the end or merely minimise pain is irrelevant to the morality of the administrator’s actions provided that they have reasonable grounds for believing that my consent is properly informed.

    A fictitious and incompetent supreme being is not entitled to interfere. If someone wishes to claim that their god is not fictitious the onus of proof is on them – no-one has ever demonstrated any such proof.

  38. You value your imaginary god’s will more than the feelings of actual human beings.

    That is not a criticism – it is a calm, rational and unemotional statement.

    I hold the opposite view – if only because, in my experience, human suffering is demonstrably real and the will of god(s) is not.

  39. Sandi. I suggest you look up “dialysis”, understand what it is and then answer the very reasonable question you were asked.

  40. Murder is hyper conservative newspeak for interfering in the lives of other people who don’t want you there, whose lives and business are not yours, and forcing your religious beliefs about what your peculiar idea of what YOUR god wants onto people who don’t share your beliefs.

    How about you and your ilk learn to mind your own business and your life, and stay out of the lives of other people, instead of determining what the proper relationship of god is to people you don’t know and know nothing about? How about you stop trying to use god to justify what cannot be justified by any other means?

    It’s called “freedom of religion” and “freedom of conscience.” What you advocate is simply fascistic control over the lives of other people, where YOU have the say, and not them.

  41. Life and death decisions belong to god. But here you are telling other people what god wants. And I bet you are willing to use civil law to force that decision onto other people. right?

  42. Who makes that decision that pain can or cannot be controlled adequately? Who makes those decisions about compassion or love? What if I have no goddam interest in what you think of as love?

  43. You calling it “murder” cannot and will never magically make it “murder.” As I said, if all you can do is hurl labels around, then you have nothing to say worth hearing.

  44. Involving someone else in this is making them complicit, whether they consent or not.

  45. If your experience is what defines the universe, then a lot of things are not real and you may dismiss much. You can’t so easily then call what others experience as imaginary without calling in to question everything you experience as also possibly imaginary.
    You may not have experienced “God” but that does not make God imaginary.
    I agree that human suffering is real, I would also offer my experience that love is also real, and much more powerful than suffering.
    If one chooses death over love as a response to suffering, I believe they have chosen in error and if assisted, have involved another in this error.

  46. When did I state that effective pain control never brings about an earlier death? It may, but if the intent is pain control, that is not splitting hairs, it is not intending to kill. Intent matters in many things and that is why it matters in law as well.

  47. You are free to do to yourself as you will, my objection is to involve someone else in your plan. Whether you have any “goddam interest’ in what I think of love probably doesn’t matter much to me, but I’ll bet that it matters some to your family and friends.

  48. There are verifiable reports of people who, for reasons I do not claim to comprehend choose suicide or, even to be murdered by another. Their consent is probably verifiable in some of these cases. Regardless of consent, it is not splitting hairs to question the morality of allowing others a license to kill, as opposed to a license to treat pain.
    (I won’t engage your theological debate, but in general, it is not civil to insult others beliefs.)

  49. If by taking care of things, one means maintaining the laws of nature, the laws of physics, then a creator taking care of things does not eliminate the possibility of Evil.
    Evil may still exist in our actions, despite the laws of physics being maintained intact.

  50. I asked first. (And, Yes, a federal right-to-die law, based on similar laws already enacted in a number of states, should of course grant similar federal legal protections to already-licensed medical professionals.)

  51. Treat their agony, as I’ve stated, to ease pain.
    Do not treat their agony with the intent to end their life.

    Now your turn to answer; should we grant some a license to kill?

  52. See above.

    Thank you for acknowledging that you do indeed believe that people slowly dying in untreatable agony, whose beliefs, values, and will differ from yours, should have their choice to die denied by your own self-defined “better” idea of “compassion”.

    I certainly hope you’re not licensed to force people to endure such prolonged intense pain just to satisfy your personal morals while merrily dismissing theirs.

  53. The problem is, you aren’t just “offering” your “experience that love is also real, and much more powerful than suffering.” You are explicitly expressing a desire to impose your personal experience-based choice upon your equals, who have every bit as much right to exercise their own personal experience-based choices.

    You say, “If one chooses death over love as a response to suffering, I believe they have chosen in error and if assisted, have involved another in this error.” Of course, what you believe does not establish fact (or error) for everyone else.

    In other words, backatcha: “You can’t so easily then call what others experience as imaginary without calling in to question everything you experience as also possibly imaginary.”

    Maybe it would be better if you simply respected others’ spiritual/existential boundaries, legal equality, proprietary rights, personal lives, and private choices.

  54. We already do. This is why people who claim to have the high road of values rarely rise out of the swamp of moral relativism.

    The military can kill, whether we have been attacked or not.

    The police can kill, and often do, people whom they only think, or worse, claim to think, represent a threat. They get away with it. There is a known phenomenon of “suicide by cop.” because the police have the license to kill, the suicidees ARE involving others who may not be willing.

    The state can kill, and has done so many times. Literally hundreds of people have been exonerated of crimes they didn’t commit, but faced death for.

  55. That’s fine, don’t involve another, and don’t grant others a license to kill. Then you keep it as a personal choice about your own life and don’t put another in the position of ending someone else’s life.
    (To put someone else in that position violates your request of me minding my own business)

  56. The military is acting as an agent of the state in defense of the state. If military personnel violate the rules of engagement, they can be prosecuted.
    The police do not have a license to kill, and are allowed, as are you to defend themselves and others if and must use deadly force only if necessary.
    I am against state sponsored death sentences, so I am consistent. Don’t grant a license to kill, unless you are defending life

  57. not at all. There was no problem with the laws on murder – remember Kevorkian? – until the liberals decided, along with babies, they don’t like sick, older people.

  58. I do understand what it is and that is why he keeps getting the same answer.

  59. Certainly they are complicit in ending your life. Whether through pity, or finances, they have chosen to help – thus ending your life.
    They have taken a life – your life – of value and usefulness, and your love, and your compassion and intelligence and wit, and ended it for good, as you aren’t a Christian. You will no longer exist until the you meet the Lord and He casts you to the left or the right.
    I’m sorry, compassionate assistance is straightening your pillow, or sheets. At least call it what it is; it’s murder. Now, you may want to be murdered, but let’s keep it in reality anyway. (edited)

  60. Well, Samson was used to show His strength.
    John the Baptist was used to open the people’s heart to Jesus
    Paul was used to teach people about Jesus
    Moses was used to bring the people out of Israel, as one example
    Abraham was used to show the Lord and what faith is.
    There are a few examples.
    It may even be so simple as the person was used to love someone who was unloveable

  61. Not a definition, merely references to stories by anonymous authors.

  62. It showed you how God has something planned for every life. You have a problem with the source, that’s your problem.

  63. 1. It shows nothing.
    2. The source is a bastardized collection of stories that demands the reader knuckle under to authoritarian rule. You can’t even site it correctly. I have no idea what edition, publication date, translator, publisher, or brand of christianity to which it applies.
    3. What else you got?

  64. Edward, when my mom died, we all realized it was the machine’s keeping her alive. I see nothing wrong with unplugging the machines.
    But, injecting a body with a drug intended to stop the heart – that’s another story. That’s murder.

  65. No it’s not. As I’ve explained to you already, you calling it “murder” cannot and will never magically make it “murder.” You can keep reiterating that until you turn blue, but it won’t matter. It will never come true for you. It simply will not. Continuing to call it “murder” even though it’s not, in the hope it will one day magically become “murder,” Is fallacious (specifically, it’s called argumentum ad nauseam).

    So please, by all means, continue repeating your insipid, baseless, subjective, and useless claim. Go ahead. Keep it up! All it will do is demonstrate how childish, irrational, and illogical you are. But it will never change the fact that abortion is not “murder” in the US.

  66. Sandi. perhaps they show the same compassion as I showed to my cancer-ridden dog. About 97% of human beings can readily be shown to feel others pain as though it were their own. They are motivated by a natural dislike of harm, be it physical or emotional, and have evolved to react to the signs of pain in others as though it was theirs. We call this “empathy”. The 3(ish)% who don’t share this trait we call “psychopaths”.

    The important part is “your life”. If I give you a gift it is yours to do with as you wish, the act of giving means I relinquish ownership. It is mine, not yours, not a bishop’s, a lawmaker’s or a deity’s.

    You are right – when I die I will no longer exist – just like everyone else. Everything else is supposition, wishful thinking and/or mind-control.

  67. The difference is you are not a dog. You have value and a responsibility here that only God knows when is accomplished.

  68. And with your saying it isn’t murder, will not change the fact that it is. Both marriage and murder were so defined by God. He is the only one who can change the definition and all of the attempts of liberal people will never change them. They will always be just what they are. You can fight it, but you will not be correct.

  69. Morality should always be questioned. It cannot be moral to make judgements about personal decisions dependant upon the claimed opinions of an unevidenced and unnecessary deity.

    How have I insulted “others’ beliefs”? It is reasonable to ask for evidence to support a claim – any claim. It is reasonable to point out the absence/inadequacy of such evidence. The claim that there is a supreme being should be capable of being demonstrated to be valid – even before we get in to considering which of the myriad versions of said being might be valid.

  70. Re: “And with your saying it isn’t murder, will not change the fact that it is.”

    The law is on my side on this … not yours. That you’re too childish to understand that is not my problem.

    Re: “Both marriage and murder were so defined by God.”

    Which one? Where? I dare your deity to present himself to me and force me to live according to his/her/its definitions … whatever they might be. Until s/he/it does so, I dismiss your claim about your deity as laughable.

    Re: “He is the only one who can change the definition and all of the attempts of liberal people will never change them.”

    Until s/he/it has the courage to present him/her/itself and force me to abide by his/her/its definitions, I refuse to acknowledge any of them. Oh, and I’m no “liberal” … but you’re free to insist otherwise, if it makes you feel better to do so. (Your feelings, after all, are the single most important thing in all the universe, of course.)

    Re: “They will always be just what they are. You can fight it, but you will not be correct.”

    Once again, your deity is not here to make his/her/its wishes known to me, and hasn’t yet summoned the courage to force me to abide by them. Until s/he/it does so, I laugh in you — and your deity’s — face. If s/he/it really is an almighty being, s/he/it can stop me from doing so. In fact, I dare him/her/it to stop me! Go ahead. Do your worst.

  71. Sandi – we will never agree.

    Our values are incompatible.

    I see god as an imaginary means of the control of humans by humans, you see god as a vengeful puppet-master. At least one of us is wrong.

  72. Your answer seems irrational, can you elaborate please?

  73. lol…..you have obviously no idea of how I see God. But, I know you are a person of worth and that God has a plan for your life – if only that you should be saved one day, and when His time has come to fruition, then, He will take you from the Earth.

  74. God said not to murder…………………. sometimes.

    Killing people for being cheeky is not murder?
    Killing people for being in the same town as homosexuals is not murder?
    Genocide on god’s instructions is not murder?

    Pull the other one.

    We are all going to die; if your god thinks it better that we die in pain and humiliating distress rather than simply going from robust good health to non-existence he’s not a good god is he?

  75. It would be better if you substantiated your comments with scripture so they sound less like an unrepentant sinner whining, Give, and allow your comment to be spoken to.
    I realize you may be afraid of pain, but there are wonderful drugs today – powerful ones – that will help you, yet allow you to maintain your dignity and value. My sister died in 1984 and experienced no pain that was not controllable. (edit)
    How are you today, anyway? How are you feeling?

  76. You said that god causes me to have a responsibility that I am not to be aware of and that he will put me back in the box when he decides I’ve done whatever it is that he has kept secret from me.
    That is the essence of the puppet master – control without the possibility of escape.

  77. Except that “puppet master” loves you and wants what is best for you. He gives you free will, which you have chosen to deny Him with. We are not puppets.

  78. I don’t normally quote any sacred text since doing so may be seen to be validation. However

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    Genesis 19: 24/5

    1 Samuel 15

    Exodus 22:18

    Exodus 32: 27/8

    Plus it is written that god told Moses to give pharaoh an ultimatum and then “hardened his (pharaoh’s) heart” so that the Egyptian people (not just the pharaoh) could be made to suffer.

    Nice god you worship isn’t it?

    As to my pain. I’ve been lucky all my life, it may well continue to my death. Unless something else gets me first I shall die of kidney failure. There is pain, but I am assured it is manageable. Ultimately I shall go to sleep and, without any trauma, fail to wake. I may decide not to undertake the final stage of treatment (chemotherapy), I may decide to call it a day earlier or I may fight to the end.

    PS – why did your god so hate those who died in pain before science (Note – science, not religion) developed the drugs that can alleviate some of the pain humanity suffers?

  79. Re minding your own business, it’s vis-à-vis not only that of those slowly dying in agony, but also that of their supportive medical professionals — who realize that some of those patients don’t have the physical ability to carry out their own wishes, and all of them have an opportunity to experience a much more peaceful and much less stressful death with a medical prescription than they would have without that merciful assistance… [and repeat the last 3 paragraphs of my previous post].

  80. How can I have “free will” if I’m here to perform an unknown purpose and am to have no say in my end. And I can’t see how you twist providing me with a set of genes that leads (odds on) to cancer amounts to a demonstration of him wanting what is best for me.
    Actually we are pretty much puppets. Recent developments in neuroscience indicate very strongly that “free will” is just another story, a short cut if you will, that we need to tell ourselves in order to overcome the restraints on our mental capabilities caused by the need to maximise the cost/benefit balance of having brains. (Evolution in action yet again).

  81. Deuteronomy 21 – I read something not that long ago and there never was a child killed for being disobedient. If you remember the story of the prodigal son, he wasted his dad’s money with carousing and fooling around, returned to his dad when the money ran out and his dad took him back with loving arms.
    Genesis 19: There were none righteous there. They tried to rape people, for example. Since then, Jesus has returned, taken being beaten, spit upon, scourged with a whip and nailed onto a cross until death to help people to leave their sin.
    1 Samuel: The Lord rejecting Saul? Saul rebelled against the Lord and the Lord took him out of office. Because of Jesus death for us, we have forgiveness of sin now and don’t have to die for our sins.
    Saul, after being rejected, was allowed to remain king until he was killed.
    Exodus 22 – witches utilize the power of satan – an angel who made himself an enemy of God. And, today, they usually live until natural death because of Jesus sacrifice of Himself on the cross and God giving us every opportunity to repent.
    Exodus 32 – Moses gave those instructions – not Christ.

    Yes, the Lord did harden the Pharaoh’s heart to show Moses et al, what He is capable of. He was intending on taking them on an eleven day journey through the desert and they needed to know that God would protect them.

    I serve a very loving God, Give. I have seen miracles through Him and because of Him and been the example of one myself. He loves us with an everlasting love and died on a wooden cross with spikes through his wrists and ankles for us, so that we don’t have to die. It’s odd because when a soldier throws himself on a hand grenade for another, he is a hero and everyone applauds him, yet Jesus did better than that, and He is scorned. Funny, sad world.

    Your last question, you will need to ask Him when you meet Him.

    As for your pain….kidney failure. A lot of us are in that position due to large amounts of medication and damage done to the kidneys due to that. It is a fear of many and I understand that somewhat.
    My sister was asleep when she died. God blessed her and us that way. Hers started ovarian and over to her liver, and over to her abdominal wall and up above her breasts. She had a large tumour on her chest. Was terrible to see, and I do not wish that for anyone.
    So you are still in the fighting stages then? How do you know you will not be healed if they are still trying? The Lord intervened for my dad with lung cancer – although we know He doesn’t do that with everyone and I cannot tell you why He did with my dad. But, He did.
    Have you tried having a church praying over and for you? Why are you not using every resource available? You really are a person of value.

  82. You use free will in rejecting Jesus, Give.
    I had a friend who was an atheist. The Lord used her to awaken me one evening and I was able to get to the hospital at a time that “wasn’t my round”. I was able to be with my brother that night when my mom died. That is an example of how God uses people. If she hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have been there. They all are not “Moses” experiences.
    Cancer is in the world because sin is in the world Give. Sin does terrible things and I don’t think we’ll know the full extent of it until we meet the Lord. Did I misunderstand? I thought you said you were in stage 4.
    There was a woman at a local hospital who was having her second leg removed (diabetes) and my pastor asked her how was it was that she was praising God. She answered that she still had a mouth to help people to come to Him and she praised Him for that. We all have a different job with Christ. That is one that all Christians know about but seldom work.

    Actually, they have shown that prayer helps people. Check out those studies. There are incredible studies on it! You’ll need to google them though. I don’t have them in my records. (edited)

    Also, if I am wrong, you have nothing to lose, but if I am correct, why are you forfeiting that help?

  83. Sandi – we disagree about the stories you revere.

    I’m glad your dad survived, I’m sorry your sister didn’t.

    As to fighting – like everyone, I’m going to die. Somehow, sometime, somewhere and for some reason. In the meantime I enjoy the only life any of us know we have.

    No, praying to a perfect god would be irrational. If you believe in a perfect god it follows that he can only do that which is perfect. All the praying in the world is not going to cause a change which will improve upon perfection. On the other hand; if you accept that your god is imperfect then there is no point in prayer since he is flawed and unreliable. I appreciate that sometimes things happen that, in hindsight, can be associated with prayer, association is not cause-and-effect, co-incidences happen.

    Yes, I’m using every resource, but I’m not wasting precious time on pseudo-resources and irrational wishful thinking.

  84. Ok….but what I didn’t tell you….
    My dad was healed without medical intervention. He was still in the middle of tests.

  85. Yes it is. For you. You are, after all, mired in a delusional universe in which you think you can slap your own subjective labels on stuff and it will magically become whatever you wish it to be. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work that way. The world is what it is, and whatever labels we apply to things, don’t change them. Centuries ago, William Shakespeare famously wrote as such:

    ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
    What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Take all myself. (Romeo & Juliet II.ii)

    I’m OK with the fact that reality isn’t mine to dictate by tossing labels around; but clearly, you aren’t, and that’s a sign of immaturity.

    Look, it’s OK for you to be immature, if you wish to be. But if you’re going to make the choice to remain infantilized, the least you can do is own that choice and admit to it. Go ahead. Say it. Tell me your deity has granted you special permission to remain as infantilized as you wish. Then, your deity can visit me and force me to stop calling you infantilized, if s/he/it wants. I await him/her/it.

  86. No. I meant you need to grow up and smell the coffee hon.

  87. Yes, I’m aware you need to grow up. Very much so. Me? I’m well-adjusted to reality … whereas you aren’t. Not even close.

  88. No Sandi – In hindsight you are imaging a cause-and-effect which fits your bias and which you think fits the events.

    Cancer is in the world because of evolution; both the millions of years of reproductive variation and our personal epi-genetic variation.

    Christians claim that god can overcome sin, but can’t explain why he can’t be bothered to do so.

    There was a major, well-funded, scientifically acceptable trial conducted a few years ago by The Templeton Foundation. It concluded that those who were prayed for (and knew they were being prayed for) had more complications and less satisfactory outcomes than the two other groups (one prayed for but not told and the other neither prayed for nor told). There is no more evidence that prayer works than for homeopathy or “detoxing”.

    You’re final use of Pascal’s Wager is a standard erroneous fallback position. (Actually Pascal was a devout Roman Catholic and would have told any non-RC that they were not going to be sharing Heaven with him!). The same argument can be made about any idea, religious, pseudo-scientific or just plain fraud. I know totally sincere people of several religions, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Baha’i, LDS and several varieties of Christian who could all, with equal fervour, belief and enthusiasm make the case you’re making but substituting their belief system for yours. All with exactly the same absence of evidence and reason but all equally passionate about their “truth”.

    Actually I have a lot to lose, my self-respect, my time, the satisfaction I get from helping others.

    Yes Stage 4 prostate cancer, discovered nearly three years ago once it had reached the lymph gland and therefore 99+% likely to have entered the blood-stream. Science is keeping it in check until the day (probably soon but possibly some years away) that it mutates (evolves) and my current treatment no longer works, then we move on to a sequence of other, scientifically proven, delaying treatments.

    One of the benefits of atheism (the absence of belief) is that there is no cause to fear being dead, there’s no reason to fear failing a test which rationally has to be non-existent.

  89. Have you read those articles?

    They conclude that religious (not necessarily Christian) people may report better feelings than non-religious people. This is often attributed to their membership of social support groups (churches etc.). It is clearly not evidence that their beliefs are valid, simply that they may feel better because of those beliefs.

    The trial data is, as one would expect, of varying quality and reports varying outcomes. Meta-data suggests that, at best, there is no discernible statistically-significant benefit from prayer, and, of course, even if praying were clearly beneficial it would in no way validate the existence of Shiva, Allah, Xenu, Jesus etc. etc..

  90. Does this mean he was diagnosed with cancer during early testing but that subsequent tests failed to confirm the original conclusion? This is not unusual.

    If so there are a variety of potential explanations, of which one is divine intervention. It is interesting that you use the word “healed” rather than saying that he was “given the all-clear”. an equally accurate wording but without any bias to the idea that an external agent was, or was not, involved.

    I know a woman who is convinced that she was cured of bowel cancer through the intervention of a “guardian angel”. In truth she presented with symptoms, was warned that bowel cancer was a possibility, underwent tests and was subsequently advised that the tests did not reveal cancer (I think she’s being treated for IBS though her diet is probably less than ideal!).

  91. No. They found the cancer. They measured it because of the tests. The last test they did, they did twice because they could not find the cancer.
    Best explanation is God answered prayer for an old man.
    I think we’re finished on this thread, but will look for you again because I want to know how you are doing.
    blessings to you Give.

  92. And, they did not rule out, except the last tried, Christ. Some showed that prayer did help Give.

  93. Ah, you are male, Give! Ha ha, I thought I was speaking with a woman, for some reason – no disrespect intended at all. Give, you will pass along your first name so I have a name to pray for. Will you trust me that much? My husband has no difficulties with it and I hope you will not either.
    Self respect? Time helping others? Being a Christian does not deter from either. Actually, it would increase one’s self respect knowing that Someone greater than oneself loves them enough to die for them and take them into His family.
    You believe what you choose. I’d just be pleased for a first name to pray for.

  94. Yes, I’m aware you need to grow up. Very much so. Me? I’m well-adjusted to reality … whereas you aren’t. Not even close.

    Oh wait, did I say that already? Yep. I did. Why are you having trouble understanding it? Do words mean nothing to you? Maybe English isn’t a language you’ve mastered. Which one would you prefer I use to explain to you how infantile you are? I’ll be happy to learn it, and then instruct you in it.

  95. So did my mother Bernice, who consulted with her internist before deciding to stop eating and drinking six years ago.

    Sorry to hear about your mother, Mark. Is ceasing to eat or drink a common practice in America? In India, the Jains sometimes use that method as a ritual way of consciously dying–and India’s Supreme Court is currently deciding whether such activity should be illegal or not.

  96. I agree with you, my comment was intended to make the distinction between the two acts, I’m sorry if that was not clear.

  97. Sandi Luckens….

    ” God is Sovereign, patrick….He may not do things the way we think He
    should and because there is sin in the world a lot of awful things have,
    will, and are going to happen. ….He knows what is best. If you see that as uncaring, you’re wrong. There is no better place to be than in the hands of God. ”

    Ms Luckens – replace your word ” God ” with ” Der Führer ” and your description is a hand-in-glove fit !

    Ms Luckens – your characterization of your God is exactly the same as Joseph Goebbels’ characterization of Der Führer – The Chancellor of the Third Reich !

    John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….”

    The God of John 3:16 doesn’t fit the description of the God you characterized !

    Further – by your characterization of your God – you have removed Jesus from his so-called divinity, and acknowledged that he is a mere mortal human !

    In John 14:6 Jesus says – ” No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Do you
    really think that a loving Jesus would allow himself be the conduit
    through which humans would meet his despotic father – your despotic God ?

    Your definition of your God – is that of a cruel capricious blood-thirsty despot – and you justify his capricious genocide – because (your words) ” ….there is sin in the world….”.

    But why should your God engage in genocide because (your words again) “….there is sin in the world….”. Didn’t God create a burning lake of fire where sinners would burn eternally – as punishment ? Why does your God have to torture and kill humans on earth – for their sins – and then after death – forever – the burning lake of fire in addition ?

    Matt 12:31 – ” Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against God shall not be forgiven unto men. ”

    So Ms Luckens – by your characterization of your God – you have blasphemed your God !

    According to Matthew – that’s not a very good thing….

  98. The lack of a strong explanation for something does not validate choosing a weak one though, does it? It probably means that we just haven’t found the strong one yet.

    Some showed that prayer might have helped, there was no certainty. Similarly some showed that prayer appeared to have an adverse effect – I’m not going to claim that they prove something they don’t.

    We all tend to use a number of mental short-cuts. One is called “confirmation bias”. It means we over-value anything that supports our preferences and under-value things that disprove/question our opinions. One of the strengths of the scientific method is that it minimises the possibility of arriving at erroneous (based on the available evidence) conclusions by restricting the unsupported validation of bias. (It makes it more difficult to get the answer we want).

  99. No disrespect assumed. My parents hopes for me informed their choice of my first name. I’m known as Chris.

    Sandi – we are not, ever, going to agree. I’ve been where you are, for me it didn’t work. Apparently it works in some way for you. Lots of different things work for different people. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn about religions and decide, without coercion, what (if anything) they believe.

    Coercion includes saying that things believed are actually true. There are no valid grounds for believing in heaven, hell, god(s), demons etc. etc. Explaining what one believes is morally acceptable, slipping unconsciously or otherwise, over the border into converting belief without evidence into knowledge is immoral.

    After 40 years success in B2B selling I know about creating need. Followers of superstitious belief almost always seek to create the need (which of course only their product can satisfy) by exaggeration and misrepresentation. Often they do so because they have merely assumed that what someone in authority said must be honourable. Perceptions of honour through perceived authority are dangerous. Why do you think most leaders adopt some sort of (usually expensive) fancy dress and occupy impressive buildings. We are all gullible to some degree.

    Your second paragraph makes sense to you – to me it would be a cop-out. I could say I knew etc.. but I wouldn’t would I? Because our brains work in very lazy ways I might eventually find that I’d convinced myself that that which I initially pretended to believe became so important that I eventually claimed to know it.

    I wouldn’t know it though – I’d just think I did.

    Sorry, this is not very elegant but I’m trying to help us both understand how someone who escaped the strait-jacket views what he was when his world-view was constrained by belief.

  100. I agree with your point exactly. But one minor rhetorical quibble.

    Putting down pets is a tasteless analogy here. There are plenty of people out there who do it because they just can’t afford or don’t want to pay for expensive vet service

  101. Only in hyper conservative religion land would the motivations of others be impugned by such a slanderous, self righteous, and thoroughly despicable lie, and the slanderer would be patting herself on the back for her virtue.

    Maybe us liberals decided that people are entitled to make their own decisions about their own lives, as opposed to submitting to the imaginary authority of someone else’s god…

    Or more accurately, submitting to what someone who has no problem with lying claims to be the authority of that god, who is not here to defend himself.

  102. if everyone went to your church, and your church was the official state one, then your views of what you think God wants would be relevant here.

    But we are talking about laws that apply to everyone. Nobody has to care or be bound by what you think your religion says on the subject.

    You can find a real moral argument against assisted suicide. But this isn’t it. “God says so” is a meaningless argument for everyone else but you.

  103. If only Christians of your type actually followed their religion!

    Unprovoked war would have been a thing of the distant past. The crusades would not have happened. Witches and heretics would not have been burned to death.

  104. Your god has no more morals than you do.

    In the flood, he killed all of the little babies you whine about, babies who couldn’t have sinned even if they had wanted to. It was MURDER, pure and simple.

    But when your god does it, it’s virtue.

  105. I have zero problem with the idea that people with terminal conditions being able to commit suicide and having people who can assist in doing so. The arguments against it are pretty terrible. The worst being religious. One merely imposing beliefs on others as an unwanted trespass on their lives.

    I do have a problem with the methods employed. I think use of prescription and medical personnel to carry it out stretch professional medical ethics a bit too far to feel comfortable. If people are to assist in suicide, they should not be obligated to do so professionally. If they want to do so as compassionate laypeople, so be it. I fail to see the necessity of using the apparatus of the medical profession to do it.

  106. So you have no trouble deciding to end the life of others, but object to people choosing to do it themselves. That is some messed up moral thinking there.

  107. Attaboy Mark! What a tremendous “upper” for us during this season of Advent, when our minds usually turn to new life, the birth of a Savior and all the love and kindness and goodwill this season can potentially bring us!

    As a long-term advocate for suicide prevention, I am generally against anyone chosing suicide as a solution to their dire, current circumstances. I served on the ethics committe of a large teaching hospital for many years, and do realize that there are medical situations where vital choices must be made, and usually the victim is incapable of making those choices for their own benefit, or for the withholding of care and certain death.

    My tenure with the ethics committee convinces me that we need a robust, ongoing discussion of this topic of assisted suicide that takes us several years into the future. There must be a place at the table for each interested group: medical personnel, lawyers, theologians from both extremes, plain citizens and those who treat the severely depressed. We’re not anywhere near a consesus on this vital topic.

  108. I don’t think you are in quite the position to be discussing morals, or the morality of God, Ben. Something for you to think about…..

  109. God always gives one the opportunity to forsake him Ben. You know all about that.

  110. No, you are.

    We are discussing the wishes of people who are terminally ill. Your God, or your views of him have nothing to do with it. That is unless you are seeking your own suicide or asked to volunteer to help with one.

  111. So if someone told you that god spoke to them saying, “Your work on earth serving me is complete, so I am calling you to me–you must end your life in order to comply”, would you consider that god’s decision? If not, how would you disprove it without sounding like an ass?

  112. I believe it is not uncommon in the U.S. but I know of no statistics. I will say that it’s hard for me to imagine a better death than my mother’s. She was fully alert and conscious, and herself, when she was awake, until she slipped into a coma 24 hours before she died. During the two weeks prior, she had her immediate family around her, visits from friends and other family members; she said her goodbyes with advice for all; she held forth on various subjects and planned her funeral. It was all quite remarkable.

  113. But we werent taking about god, were we? We were talking about slandering and reviling people. I was talking about you.

  114. No. that Christians don’t follow their own faith is not wonderful. it’s particularly sad.

    But hardly surprising.

  115. lol…..when they are following their faith, you think they aren’t, Ben…..lol……we’ve come to understand that when it comes to Christianity, you don’t know what you’re talking about

  116. Deflect and deny is always your method. I’m not the first person to notice your sweet faced passive aggression, and I won’t be the last.

  117. I am in agreement with you, but why theologians? What do they have to say to anyone but those of their own persuasions?

    If they cannot agree about the Nature of god and his message to the world, why on earth would I care what they Think about something that is none of their business?

  118. One of the worst things that happened to me was when my late partner died 21 years ago. He was so inflicted with dementia that I couldn’t say good bye to him. He wouldn’t allow it.

    One of my best friends died the week before. He wanted everyone to say good bye to him, before he took the quicker way out. We were at peace.

  119. I’ve found those guys (and women!) are good heads to have around the table. They represent communities of faith, whose voices should be heard in such life-and-death matters. We’re not one-dimensional people, so their theological questions are indeed appropriate.

  120. I appreciate the caring thought that drives your action.

  121. Not at all – I’m just revealing the truth to a caustic person Ben.

  122. Your christian apologetics are historically anachronistic
    Your righteousness is being buried in the ash-heap of history.
    The ” nones ” are quite effectively seeing to that….

  123. Okay. I thought perhaps you thought I was taking a more “liberal” approach to end of life issues. I often think that life was simpler before the advent of sophisticated medical technologies and the present tendency towards assisted suicide and active euthanasia. I am not unsympathetic to pain of all sorts, physical, mental, and emotional, but there must be better strategies than what is being promoted in current culture.

  124. I completely agree with you Edward. If only the machine is keeping them alive, that is not God keeping them alive.

  125. you keep hoping. I’ll keep living for Jesus. Blessings patrick.

  126. I’m more fine with regular suicide but a bit wary about ~assisted~, depending on how you define it. If you want to end it that should be completely your own act, and you shouldn’t ask someone else to do it for you, and possibly have that weighing on their conscience. It just seems impolite to me.

  127. Why should they be heard is my question? If they disagree about the nature of god and his message to the world, what do they have to say about anything to anyone regarding g the theology of life and death? Liberal people tend to believe in personal autonomy in these matters. Conservative people seem to think we need laws on the subject.

    My point would be that each can make his own choice. It’s very much like gay marriage. If you don’t like it, don’t have one. That would be the end of the theological discussion.

    Lots of people have good heads and can contribute, without bringing in their version of god to discuss with people who don’t share their beliefs.

  128. Re: ” You have fought hard, Psi, my friend, but you cannot win.”

    I know that full well. I was once a fundie myself and I get the mindset. I’ve found that open, explicit defiance of their deity triggers a certain amount of disgust in them that — quite frankly — I find amusing. That’s what this is all about … my amusement. These ignorant, primitive simpletons are just so much fun to play with.

  129. We can agree to disagree on this, Ben, but to me, any life-and-death medical matter should generate a robust discussion, with everyone concerned with their place at the table. There are moral implications of self-chosen, doctor-assisted suicide, and their point of view needs to be heard.

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