Guest Article: A Lenten Examination of Conscience 5

Untaught Christian History: War and the Contagion of Erroneous Conscience

Just before a battle with the Gauls at Borbetomagus, Saint Martin of Tours (316-397), then a military officer, determined that his faith in Christ prohibited him from fighting, saying, “I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.” He was charged with cowardice and jailed. In response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops.

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Guest Article: A Lenten Examination of Conscience 4

CHRISTIAN UNJUST/JUST WAR MORAL THEORY

The first weapon of war is the lie. The first casualty of war is the truth. These two universally known and historically validated facts are truths that Christian just war theory, Christian just warists and Christian just war Churches are adamantly and chronically culpably blind to. And this, despite the verifiable fact that this head-in-the-sand moral posture has resulted in and is resulting in Christians destroying ten of millions of human beings and inflicting intolerable human suffering on ten of millions of others by their Ostrich based just war.morality. Morally culpable self-deception is refusing to look because I know I won’t see what I want to see.

Christian Just/Unjust War Moral Theory

 

Inquisition into Science Fiction

“The Game” refers to a peculiar activity of some Hard Science Fiction enthusiasts. These enthusiasts take great pains in finding fault with the Science presented in such “Hard Science Fiction”. For them it is a game, “The Game”. Hard Science Fiction is Fiction closely bound to reality, and in particular to scientific laws.

In a way the scrutiny of these enthusiasts, is similar to what used to happen in the Catholic Church. The scrutinising of theological works, of doctrinal orthodoxy in preaching, and in particular, in the process of Canonisation. This scrutinisation was carried out by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, otherwise known as the Holy Office.

Since the “Inquisition” brought up negative connotations, and wasn’t in line with ecumenical dialogue, the name was changed and a vast amount of it’s jurisdiction and practice was reduce, after the Second Vatican Council. It is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF.

So in the absence of sanctioned Inquisitors, I’m going to play “The Game” with Hard Science Fiction in general from a Catholic theological point of view. Why? All fiction requires some extent of the suspension of disbelief. Hard Science Fiction attempts to minimise that as much as possible. But the problem is that Hard Science Fiction, just as Science in general, denies the existence of God, and in particular the Truths of the Catholic Church. This makes the suspension of disbelief more difficult for the Catholic.

It’s at this point that I need to remind the reader, that I write from the perspective that the Dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church are the fullness of the Truth, that all other religions are false and that there is no other means of Salvation than by the means that the Catholic Church teaches as Dogma (meaning; to be believed).

Science, in denying the ontological Truths of the Catholic Faith, such as the existence of the Soul, wastes it’s time and effort on areas, that a Catholic would logically say “that’s most likely a dead end”. Hence in Fiction the suspension of disbelief more difficult for the Catholic, I am going to play “The Game” in order to help people understand that concept.

Please note that I will use terms like “Impossible”, what I mean is “according to the current understanding of Catholic Dogma, this is Impossible”.
Why do I make this important note? Galileo. As a scientist, he was able to prove that the Earth rotated around the Sun (heliocentric), not the other way round (geocentric). The Church authorities, who were not scientific at the time, threatened to condemn him as a heretic, unless he recanted. The reason for this was the inappropriate application of the Dogma of the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. I say inappropriate, because as Augustine said

For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

Notice how Augustine doesn’t jump down the neck of the Scientist…

It is also important to note, that consciously or unconsciously Modern Science desperately seeks to rid itself (and the rest of humanity) of the “yoke” of the Catholic Church. Oh Great and Magnanimous Modern Science! If only everyone stopped kidding themselves with fantasy such as the Catholic Faith, and only bow down and worship Science!

Well, I feel a great deal of pity for those scientists and proponents of the “church” of Modern Science. They are gambling in the worst possible game, and with the worst possible odds. They are going to find when their lives are over, eternally isolated from the One Truth, Love and Goodness, known as God. They will also be isolated from every other creature that has rejected it’s creator, and be the depredation of daemons for all eternity… (and of course, despite Satan’s attempt to make hell look like “fun” or some kind of kinky lust party, remember that daemons are the natural predators of human souls. Outwitted, outmanoeuvred, powerless, trapped, pitch dark, intolerable suffering, think every word that could sum up humanity’s worst nightmare, without a single possible hint of relief, hope, ecstasy, happiness or anything that would make it seem better. Eternal separation from God is worse than that…) – This is, after all, the Catholic Truth of the matter.

So let “The Inquisition” begin!


Uploading

Uploading is the “process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and “self”) from a particular brain substrate and copying it to another computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software based artificial neural network. The computational device could then run a simulation model of the brain information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.”.

Response: Impossible as described

Catholic Dogma permits us to believe that the neuron pathways of the brain could be copied to a created device, but that would be it. The copy would be no different to a brain stored in formaldehyde, it would not be concious, for it lacks the thing in order to be “self” or “conscious”; the Immortal Soul. As for the associated concept of “downloading”, there is nothing in Catholic Dogma that contradicts the possibility of downloading data to the brain.


Transfer of Consciousness

In this game, the Core imposes law requiring its citizens to have their consciousnesses transferred into machines, thereby granting theoretically indefinite life.

Transfer of consciousness is similar to Uploading, it is the transfer our consciousness to a created device, leaving our bodies and therefore become living machines (immortality).

Response: Impossible

The soul is immaterial, and is united by God to matter at the moment of conception. What makes a human different from an animal, is the Immortal Soul. Since the Intellect and the Will (which are the expression of consciousness), are the two supreme faculties of the immaterial Immortal Soul, it is impossible to copy or transfer.


Teleportation

Star Trek was full of it

Teleportation is the “soft” SF concept of transporting a human being from A to B, by means of some sort of data communication.

Response: Impossible as desired

Science could theoretically copy the existent object, communicate that elsewhere, and rebuild a copy of that object at a remote location. However it is important to state, that it would be a copy. Were the existent body de-constructed in the process, regardless of the fact that an exact copy were reconstituted elsewhere, the Immortal Soul would not transfer, death would occur in the original immediately. Dogma would also seem to suggest that the copy would most likely remain lifeless. Whether God would create a new soul for such a construct would remain open.


Sapient Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Strong AI

Human created devices with the ability to perform “general intelligent action”. Displaying traits such as consciousness, sentience, sapience, and self-awareness observed in living beings.

Response: Impossible as desired

It is theoretically possible for humans to engineer a software program that could attempt at emulating a human being. But it would not possess Intellect and Will, which are the two supreme faculties of the Immortal Soul.

It is also theoretically possible for humans to engineer a self-learning program, but again the program would not become self-aware, sapient or conscious like us, for it lacks an Immortal Soul. It is important to state however, that such a self-learning program may become a threat to it’s creators.

It is important to point out that great informational processing power does not constitute consciousness, or sapience. There is nothing in Dogma that contradicts the possibility of technology, that were we presented with it today would seem like magic. It just wouldn’t be Strong AI.


As you should be able to see, I have worked here on the issues that Science is currently bashing it’s head against. The efforts to create Strong AI, and it’s associated cousins of Uploading, Consciousness Transfer and Teleportation, is real and substantial. But it’s not going to work as desired, because the developers have missed out the importance of Catholic Dogma concerning the Immortal Soul. They think that in copying the mind or developing software versions of the mind, they will create a mind. They have missed the point. It’s the Soul that they need to emulate, which they can’t and can never, because it is an immaterial mystery created by God alone. Not even Satan can do it.

An area that touches on the Soul, but is generally ignored is the whole area of transplants and human cloning. Most people are focussed on the horrendous ethical issues, but I think it’s also interesting to think about the ontological issues too. For instance, Bob is involved in a serious car accident and most of his body is destroyed, he will only survive on life support. NoEthics Inc. come along, and clones Bob (Bob2).

Surely in order to become animated Bob2 will need spirit and an Immortal Soul. Will God supply theses? We know that He does for IVF children. Supposing that God does supply Bob2 with an Immortal Soul, were NoEthics Inc. to use his body parts to reconstruct Bob, or host Bob’s brain in Bob2’s body with a brain transplant, then NoEthics Inc. would be guilty of murder.

Indeed it would beg a further question; Bob has a soul, Bob2 has a soul, if Bob2’s brain is removed and Bob’s brain put in, what happens to the souls? Dogma tells us that Souls are immaterial, not contingent on specific body parts.
Which then expands further on to the whole issue of transplants… bleugh.

In the process of writing this article, I was going to refute the issue of Cryonics (of freezing human beings for space travel or later treatment etc), my principle argument was going to be that Cryogenic Freezing kills the body and the soul will depart. However, I was reminded that Cryogenic Freezing of human beings and their defrosting and reanimation already occurs.

The Catholic Faith teaches that the soul is united with matter at the moment of conception. For this reason life is Sacred from conception to natural death, and any frustration of that process is homicide. The destruction of a child in utero, regardless of it’s developmental stage is always murder, and the worst kind for the child has no ability to defend itself. So, for instance, chemicals that reduce the lining of the uterus, preventing the child from implanting and thus causing the child’s death as it is passed out of the woman’s body, is always a weapon of murder.

Having explained that, one of the most heinous crimes of the modern world is Invitro Fertilisation, IVF. God in His immense wisdom and mercy, permits the conception of a child in this process. The soul is instilled at the first moment of conception, and if the child is granted the environs needed, it will grow to be as God designed, like you and I. Why He permits this is beyond me, but that aside. The fact is that on top of the first horrendous crime of IVF, these children have then been cryogenically frozen (read: murdered, since most die) and when defrosted a few live.

Aside from the absolute depravity of what is involved in this process, there is something fascinating; a human being is frozen and then unfrozen and still lives. Which means that the Immortal Soul is either not contingent on living signs in the body (unlikely), or that the Immortal Soul is retracted (perhaps into limbo?) and then returned when the child is defrosted by the grace of God.

This fact, seems to suggest that adult cryonics may be a possibility. That being said, the rate of deaths (read: murders) of the children conceived by IVF caused by the freezing process, would point towards a very high rate of fatalities in adults.

Guest Article: A Lenten Examination of Conscience 3

CULPABLE CONSCIENCE

“The effort one is obliged to make in order to acquire moral certainty that an action is morally permissible is to be measured by the importance of the action itself and the consequences which can be reasonably anticipated. If the life of a neighbor is liable to be imperiled by actions of ours, we must choose the safest course of action so as to avoid this evil effect. War with its dire consequences can never be waged on the grounds of probable right.”
—Rev. Bernard Haring, C.SS.R., THE LAW OF CHRIST, Vol I, Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur (1960)

 

Special post – 100th Article

Well, WordPress has informed me that this is my 100th article! Goodness, it doesn’t feel like it! What a lot of hot gas I must have let off in the process.

Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri

Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri – thank you wikimedia.org

I have been very busy, juggling too many balls, bound to let one fall. Here is a scout lesson: Keep it simple. Don’t juggle too many balls.

Some projects (read: can of worms) that I have on the back-burner for publishing on this blog, are;

  • A better response to Political Liberalism; Conservatism? No, a Catholic Constitutional Meritocracy!
    – I have been thinking some time about publishing my thoughts regarding politics. Having read a little Plato, Aristotle, Thomas More and a few philosophers and Popes, who talk about this subject, I thought I would present my juvenile thoughts.
  • The Game – Catholic Style AKA The Cull
    – Another topic that has been playing on my mind is, from a Catholic point of view, criticising fiction about the future. Here I am interested in refuting hard science fiction. I’m not talking about refuting Star Wars (though I will deal with the fantastical idea of psychic powers), I’m talking about refuting notions such as sapient artificial intelligence or sapient aliens.

If there are any other subjects that you would like me to ponder, just use the comments box below!

Guest Article: A Lenten Examination of Conscience 2

Self Deception:

“It is all but impossible to get a person to see a truth if his or her livelihood or status, or even just comfort, depends on him or her not seeing that truth.” -ECM

LMS Chairman: The Eich affair: why conservatives are wrong, Part 4

To conclude, liberalism as a theory cannot cope without basic, ‘thin’ moral principles being accepted by pretty well everyone: to point out that their chosen principles are actually accepted by almost no-one this is indeed the case with the most influential account of rationality in liberal theory, that of John Rawls check-mates the whole theory. Again, the theory cannot do without a nice clear distinction between what harms others to be forbidden and what is a legitimate pursuit of a private, perhaps controversial, conception of the good life to be permitted. To point out that this distinction collapses in practice is to show that the whole theory is untenable. If all the things we’d expect to be optional conceptions of the good turn out to be required or forbidden by justice to others because they affect other people, liberal freedom simply disappears.

via LMS Chairman: The Eich affair: why conservatives are wrong, Part 4.

This is the concluding part of a very interesting series by the LMS Chairman Dr Joseph Shaw (Professor of Philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford University) on Political Liberalism.

I have a great deal of respect for this philosopher, as I do for Dr Peter Kreeft and Dr John Rao. Of course, I pray that the Good Lord provide me with the eloquence, and education to understand half of what they say, but until then, we labour on!

So in my poor layman’s terms I will attempt to translate what Dr Shaw concluded (for those of us less intellectually or educationally endowed).

Dr Shaw describes Political Liberalism as:

Political liberalism is the view that, on the basis of an agreed set of very basic moral principles designed to protect us from obvious harms like being murdered, everyone should be able to pursue the good life as he conceives it to be.

The weaknesses are:

  1. Political Liberalism presents it’s basic moral principles as uncontroversial. Translation: Political Liberalism imposes a set of basic morals, which Political Liberalism considers are not going to give rise to public disagreement in general.
  2. [Political Liberalism] implies a very radical freedom for each person to do what he likes with his life, as long as it does not harm other people.

In the first case is logical, Political Liberalism percolates it’s basic moral principles into society, deflecting attention away from them by claiming that they are uncontroversial, as desirable to everyone. This is not true. Its basic moral principles are controversial. It requires a close look at the principles, but in doing so it is possible to see how they derive from certain specific moral [philosophical] theories, which are highly controversial.

The second is an empirical, Political Liberalism claims “radical freedom for each person to do what he likes with his life, as long as it does not harm other people” is the ultimate good, however the empirical evidence is the complete contrary. The consequences of people doing what they want, so long as it doesn’t harm other people, are dire. So much so that “even liberal states can only apply it selectively and inconsistently“. The truth is, that people doing what they want, always affects other people. We’re not all hermetically sealed entities.

One of my favourite quotes [paraphrased] from Father Emmanuel McCarthy, in explaining this point, with particular regards to homicide, is “our actions ripple out in time and in space, like a stone thrown into a pond. We are powerless over those ripples, and we cannot comprehend the extent of where our good [or evil] actions will end.”

The error of the neo-Conservatives is “seeking to limit the attacks on themselves by liberals by accepting the basic liberal picture, and then trying to ameliorate the problems liberalism causes by special pleading.” Translation: neo-Conservative argue within the environment of Political Liberalism, rather than attacking the fundamental environment of Political Liberalism itself.

To conclude, Dr Shaw is saying that we need to attack Political Liberalism as a system, logically and empirically. This way we will show that Political Liberalism is untenable.

He does mention in passing one counter as being “a conservative alternative to liberalism isn’t a dystopia: it is just a set of compromises between people with much in common, but disagreements as well, about what makes for a good life, negotiated by perfectly ordinary political means.

My worry with that, is that Political Liberalism has had such a free reign, and rampant secularism has so repeatedly raped society of any sense of what really makes for a good life, that the vast majority of people will say that what makes for a good life is doing what you want (so long as you don’t hurt others)!!

I suspect stronger medicine than that is needed and like a wayward child, they won’t like it…