Thursday, September 18, 2008

Because I Could Not Stop for Death, God Set Up an Appointment

The Pope would remind us all that his favorite god brought death into this world and can take it out any damn time he pleases:

[T]he Vatican vehemently maintains that life must continue to its natural end. The pope said in his homily that the ill should pray to find "the grace to accept, without fear or bitterness, to leave this world at the hour chosen by God."
He will give you something to cry about!

But seriously: "natural end" qua that which is "chosen by God"? How on earth -- or how in heaven, if you roll that way -- are we to follow this rule and still put on clothes or pick the ticks off our skin or repel marauding cougars, let alone accept vaccinations? Nature is trying to kill each of us at every moment.

I realize this is not a novel question, but I'm not the one who put on a dress, took to France, and brought it up.


Aimee Brons said...

This topic is on the top 10 list of the most frustrating conversations to have with Catholics/Christians: How do you reconcile modern medicine/life (or hell, even ancient medicine/life) with the idea that only god has the right and the power to create and dismantle life? Of course this innocent beginning sends us traipsing into the ethical bogs of euthanasia, genetic engineering, and stem cell research. You’re right. It isn’t exactly a novel question, but I have a feeling it is one that will direct biological and religious discourse over the next 100 years. The question being, where is the fine line between survival and religious determinism?

Alexander R Pruss said...

The interaction between God's will and free will is always tricky. I think in this context "the hour chosen by God" is coextensive with "the hour at which you would die if you and your caretakers were not to violate God's law in the relevant respects." (This violation could be either by killing you, or by using immoral medical means to prolong your life, e.g., transplants from unconsenting donors.)

Mike said...

This gets really sticky if you accept the notion that God is omnipotent and therefore created and is allowing access to the various methods of altering lifespan. Add to that the reliance on texts written long before most of these techniques were known and you get lots of argument.

This reminds of an incident a few years ago. A semi was traveling on a local Interstate highway when a tire blew, causing it to pass through the median and tip onto a car going the other way, killing the occupants. I've always thought that falls into the "it was their time" category.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is not a novel question, but I'm not the one who put on a dress, took to France, and brought it up.

Perhaps if you did, you'd have a different perspective. Or at least make a few new friends. LOL