Civil Liberties

Assisted dying? Suicide courts, not doctors, will judge the merits of your death


This iniquitous Bill refuses to die. It keeps re-emerging like a Godzilla sequel; forever coming back like the proverbial bad penny – unwanted, unpleasant, unfortunate. We are told that the law as it stands is cruel; condemning, as it does, thousands of people to pain and needless suffering. This Bill will end the trauma: it foreshortens the unbearable life; casting the burden onto eternity. But it isn’t true. This Bill is not compassionate, kind or merciful: in fact, it’s a bunny-boiler of a bill, designed, as it proclaims, “to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life” – that is, to oblige doctors to play God, not only in determining absolute life expectancy, but in furnishing the deadly poison and assembling the mechanisms of death.

Who judges competence? Two doctors will certify – as required for abortion – but that will soon become a routine bit of rubber-stamping, just as it is for abortion. The final decision will be made by a judge in a court of law, and he or she will hear testimonies and weigh the evidence. The doctors will make recommendations, but the judge will decide. Another layer of objective officialdom to reassure the sceptics.

Aren’t suicidal thoughts a symptom of depression? Doesn’t the autonomous choice of the “competent adults who are terminally ill” become a statutory obligation upon those whose vocation it is – and has been since the time of Hippocrates – to heal, restore and rehabilitate? “Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone”, said the original Hippocratic Oath. Yet Section 4 of The Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill requires doctors (and authorised nurses) to “prepare that medicine”, “prepare a medical device” and “assist that person to ingest or otherwise self-administer”. And then they have to hang around until the suicide has given up the ghost, presumably to bear witness to the devoutly-wished consummation. Will the courts be able to order a doctor to assist with the ending of a life if that doctor has doubts about the dignity, morality or propriety of administering lethal drugs?

The Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill is sponsored by Labour backbencher Rob Marris. It is, in substance, form and purpose, absolutely no different from Lord Falconer’s bills in the House of Lords (2013-14; 2014-15; 2015-16), which were based on the system of assisted suicide established in the U.S. States of Oregon and Washington. And that’s going well. “But we need the debate,” cry the Bill’s proponents, seemingly unable to accept that we have the debate every year, and every year they lose. And so the Bill springs back, and must keep on doing so until the law is changed.

Writing last autumn, Inverness-based consultant physician in palliative medicine Dr Stephen Hutchison said:

I do wonder where those who make that last demand have been for the past 20 years because we’ve repeatedly had the debate in public, in the media, and importantly, several times in Parliament. Let’s be honest. It’s not just a wish to ‘have the debate’ is it? It’s really a determination to get it legalised.

The Bill’s content has been made known rather late in the day – the Parliamentary debate (Second Reading scheduled for September 11th, when the world is rather distracted with.. O, never mind) is already brewing: it is liberty, individuality, progress and rationality versus those of you whom Canon Rosie Harper simply judges “personally are requiring other people to judge extreme agony on behalf of your own conscience”, which, she avers, is “neither moral nor Christian”. That’s all there is to it. None is harmed: there is no thin-end-of-the-wedge; no slippery slope; no chain reaction. The Bill has been drafted by Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), so it can be trusted implicitly. To oppose it is immoral and un-Christian.

Yet it is interesting how euthanasia morphed into assisted suicide, which has itself transmuted to assisted dying. Why not just call it the ‘collaborative furtherance of peace’ and have done with it? Since all that lives must die, who can argue against a warm, tender helping hand to aid us toward cessation?

There is a group called ‘No To Assisted Suicide‘, whose task it is to respond to Rob Marris (though he is taking no calls and answering no emails: all enquiries to Dignity in Dying, please). But ‘No To Assisted Suicide’ offend at the outset against the merciful and compassionate liberal core by clinging to ‘suicide’, not ‘dying’. They reject the convenient rearrangement of words, but they urge you to take action: follow them on Facebook, Twitter; get in the know and write to your MP. They say:

This Bill is profoundly dangerous, and if passed would compromise public safety and the welfare of vulnerable people. Whilst being presented as a very limited proposal, it runs the risk not only of ending the lives of people who, wrongly prognosed, could have lived far longer and happier lives, but of creating a situation whereby vulnerable people are subjected to subtle pressure by unscrupulous relatives or medical staff who wish to empty a bed. Others might simply by cultural inertia choose to end their lives because they feel a burden on others, as did 40% of those choosing to die in Oregon, and 59% of those choosing to die in Washington, according to the most recent figures. All of these situations would far more often than not be undetectable by the paper-thin ‘safeguards’ given in the Bill, which constitute little more than a toothless procedural checklist.

In establishing the principle that there is a ‘right’ to be assisted in killing oneself, Marris’s assisted suicide Bill would establish the ground for incremental extension of assisted suicide to others beyond terminal illness, and the introduction of euthanasia for others who are rendered incapable of killing themselves. That is why it is opposed by elderly and disabled groups such as the British Geriatric Society, Scope, Disability Rights UK and Not Dead Yet UK. It is also opposed by leading medical organisations such as the Royal Societies of Physicians and General Practitioners, the British Medical Association and the World Medical Association.

The vote in the House of Commons will be a close one, so every vote will count. The Prime Minister himself is opposed to any change in the law, but he has the slenderest of majorities and is somewhat preoccupied. He does, however, care deeply about the disabled, vulnerable and terminally depressed. His father was born with both legs deformed, and his son was born with cerebral palsy and suffered from epilepsy. A politician’s quality of life would be greatly enhanced without having to endure either burden. Do we really want to live in a brave new world where it is left to lawyers in ‘suicide courts’ to eradicate all ‘unnecessary suffering’?

  • Orwell Ian

    Assisted Dying has wider application than Assisted Suicide. The latter involves action by the patient the former does not. In fact I would suggest that Assisted Dying is a classification sufficiently open ended to cover everything up to and including “The Final Solution” where an entire dysgenic, ethnic, religious, social or political class is helped on their way to eternity against their wishes. In these days of increasingly illiberal and undemocratic governance it is a very dangerous term and foreshadows emergence of a steep slippery slope.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Absolutely so. A good point well made.

  • John Thomas

    Sadly, my MP IS Rob Marris – who, you may know, was MP in the parliament before last, voted out in 2010, and has just got back in by a small margin – and now has promptly gone over to the dark side. No doubt he and his supporters – even Canon Whatsername – have good intentions, but good intentions really will lead to hell in this case. Society in the last decades of this century – with many other things, too – will be just awful, I weep for people alive then; thankfully, I won’t be one of them.

  • Irene’s Daughter

    Once this was a country that loved life and killing was the greatest crime. But as a nation we have rejected the ‘Giver of life’ and so death is the only way we have left. Abortion at one end, murder/assisted dying at the other. And the nation itself is also dying. How the Lord must weep for us.

    • Dominic Stockford

      As the Christian Party pointed out at the last election the country is being dragged from a culture of life to one of a culture of death.

  • alternative_perspective

    Dear Archbishop Cranmer.

    Thank you for tenaciously pursuing such matters. If it wasn’t for people such as yourself, standing sentinel like, against the continual onslaught of ghastly modernity this country would be far further down the road to hell than it already is.

    Perhaps we cannot turn back the tides before our Lord returns, to trample the wicked, but we can at least attempt to preserve space for those seeking after righteousness.

    Bless you… And your blog.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    Bearing in mind the Dutch experience of euthanasia, as reported by Herbert Hendin in Psychiatric Times, the Bill’s safeguards are not worth the paper they’re written on:

    ‘I was one of a few foreign researchers who had the opportunity to extensively study the situation in the Netherlands, discuss specific cases with leading Dutch practitioners and interview Dutch government-sponsored euthanasia researchers about their work. We all independently concluded that guidelines established by the Dutch for the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia were consistently violated and could not be enforced. In the guidelines, a competent patient who has [untreatable] suffering makes a voluntary request to a physician. The physician, before going forward, must consult with another physician and must report the case to the authorities.

    ‘Concern over charges of abuse led the Dutch government to undertake studies of the practice in 1990, 1995 and in 2001 in which physicians’ anonymity was protected and they were given immunity for anything they revealed. Violations of the guidelines then became evident. Half of Dutch doctors feel free to suggest euthanasia to their patients, which compromises the voluntariness of the process. Fifty percent of cases were not reported, which made regulation impossible. The most alarming concern has been the documentation of several thousand cases a year in which patients who have not given their consent have their lives ended by physicians. A quarter of physicians stated that they “terminated the lives of patients without an explicit request” from the patient. Another third of the physicians could conceive of doing so.’

    To read the article without the bother of registering, Google ‘herbert hendin the case against physician assisted suicide’ and click on the ‘1 Feb 2004’ result.

    • Ivan M

      All true. Apparently they have told a depressed Belgian girl, that it is alright to commit suicide, since she has no friends.That is how things are arranged. First they destroy the authority of the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Then the atomised individual becomes a plaything for whatever theories or factions that have the upper hand. At no time is the individual the centre of concern.

  • In Perfect Ignorance

    This kind of question won’t be settled in parliament until knock-out arguments have convinced public opinion one way or the other.

    At the moment those knock-out arguments haven’t been delivered, just as they weren’t delivered against SSM or against abortion.

    “It’s wrong to assist someone to die because life is sacred” only convinces those who believe that life is sacred. Those who don’t are totally unswayed by such arguments.

    The very fact that such a bill can even be presented before parliament and be seriously discussed is evidence that Christianity is being challenged like never before. Since its very beginnings our Faith has always been the challenger. It’s always challenged other creeds and won. Now it’s being challenged and starting to lose the argument, at least in the public perception.

    Is this because we’re approaching the end of days and prophecies of the Great Falling Away are coming true? Or is it because a superior philosophy is supplanting a faith that has run its course, shot its bolt and had its time?

    I don’t know. I really don’t. And I wish that those who claim to could provide incontrovertible evidence that what they say is true.

    • The Explorer

      Very good points. Aquinas realised that there is no point quoting the Bible at those who don’t accept its authority. Same sort of thing here. There cannot be a knockout blow by Christianity until the Second Coming. For the rest, if God is not the source of life because there is no God, then of course life isn’t sacred. We’re left with a natural pecking order on the one hand, fighting it out with our notions of equality on the other. My guess is the pecking order will win.

      With regard to your excellent penultimate paragraph, if the faith is true it can’t have run its course. If it isn’t true, then the sooner it disappears the better. As to whether we’re on the last Days, or witnessing the triumph of a superior philosophy, I suppose time will tell.

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        Yes, but Christianity could be ultimately untrue and yet still serve an evolutionary purpose and therefore be of some utility. And that utility may still be pertinent for those who are not yet ready to accept the greater utility of secularism, which may in its turn not be completely true, but just the next waystation on our journey towards truth.

        Or then again it could just be one of the Enemy’s tricks and stratagems.

        Who knows? I certainly don’t.

        • The Explorer

          My own guess is that the prevailing philosophy of the Last Days is far more likely to be Islam than Secular Humanism.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            I dunno, I think Islam is just a distraction. It provides nothing that Christianity doesn’t already claim to provide in the way of salvation and paradise after death. So I can’t see it as any kind of evolution or next step in human thinking, but more of a blind alley, or variation on a theme.

            Secular humanism seems like a development or an evolution because it attempts to bring reason and logic to bear on questions that heretofore have always been answered by blind and arbitrary faith. I don’t like all the pride and intolerance that goes with it, although just because I don’t like these things doesn’t mean they don’t serve an evolutionary purpose, a bit like shark’s teeth or a cockroach’s scuttle. Perhaps the transition between one philosophy and another can’t be managed without derision and persecution. Look at how Christianity treated Jews and pagans.

            Islam isn’t a new development. Secular humanism is. Christianity has withstood the onslaught of Islam for centuries, but only started to crumble when secularism came on the scene. Each religion can only cannibalise the other, whereas secular humanism undermines and destabilizes both.

          • carl jacobs

            Secular humanism seems like a development or an evolution because it attempts to bring reason and logic to bear on questions that heretofore have always been answered by blind and arbitrary faith.

            Reason is a process, and not a standard. Everyone – without exception – uses logic and reason. And everyone – without exception – informs his logic and reason with first principles that he can neither prove nor establish. Your evolved secular humanism is neither logical nor rational. It is presuppositional. It is your assertion that your first principles – your faith system in essence – are true whereas my first principles are false.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            The way I see it, I’m like an ancient Greek who looked upon a pearl and valued it for its beauty and form while admitting he had no idea of how it was made, but that considering it came out of an oyster shell, and seemed to made of the same material as the inside of that shell, might conjecture that the processes of shell formation and pearl formation were related in some way, although exactly how he didn’t know.

            You on the other hand seem to be like an ancient Greek who looked upon the same pearl and also valued it for its beauty and form, but considering that it was really pretty, and came out of the sea, might conjecture that it was a solidified teardrop shed by a beautiful goddess as she cried in joy when she was birthed by the sea foam.

            Now to me, the first explanation is rational because it proposes a verifiable origin for pearls. All the ancient Greek would have had to do was make a study of oysters. After opening enough of them, he could have observed for himself the various stages of laying down a pearl, from the initial ingestion of grit by the oyster, to the subsequent addition of layer after layer of mother of pearl, to the actual pearl itself.

            The second explanation is not rational because there is no way it can ever be verified. It relies on faith in a story that itself relies on things that no man has ever observed in the real world: not only a goddess, but also the sea foam creating a goddess, and her tears solidifying into pearls.

            The first explanation uses verifiable logic, whereas the second relies entirely on blind faith.

            Now it has to said that I much prefer the second explanation on an emotional level. It’s poetic and whimsical and I would love the world to work that way. Just as I would love God to exist and make everything better. But I can see no way to justify that longing in a manner that makes logical sense, considering that logic as I see it is the study of method and validity in deductive reasoning. I see no method or validity in deducing the existence of weeping goddesses from pearls. I do see method and validity in deducing a natural origin for pearls that takes account of the observable nature of an oyster and how it grows.

            And that’s all I’ve got time for tonight…

          • James60498 .

            You say that you were brought up a Christian and that you are trying to believe.

            You claim that your Priest can only tell you that you must believe like a child, but on another thread I have pointed you towards a number of highly educated people who are Christians and believe in God but you seem to insist on rejecting Him whilst claiming that this is the logical response.

            There are very many highly intelligent scientists who don’t agree with you. Another one is Francis Collins.

            Just because the very secular BBC doesn’t admit such people exist doesn’t mean that they don’t.

            It is much easier not to believe. You can stay in bed on Sunday morning, and it doesn’t even need to be your own bed.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            A highly intelligent person who believes in God is not proof in itself of the existence of God. Highly intelligent people also believe in UFOs, and spooks, and even astrology. Intelligence is no guarantee of accuracy.

            Take the example of Florence Nightingale, commonly agreed to be a highly intelligent woman, who as well as being extremely organized and driven was also a gifted mathematician and an innovative communicator and statistician, formidable achievements for a woman of her time and only possible via the application of a formidable intelligence. Unfortunately this didn’t stop her from believing that many diseases were the result of miasmatic infection, a theory which was later disproved beyond all doubt. Being smart didn’t stop Miss Nightingale from being wrong.

            Her intelligence was real enough, but her conclusions were incorrect because of a lack of data and a creative propensity to fill in the gaps with unproven ideas and theories.

            I find that highly intelligent proponents of Christianity tend to do something very similar. They fill in gaps in the known facts with ideas and theories they want to be true, but for which no evidential proof exists.

            I don’t have the time right now to pick apart each of the arguments you say you’ve pointed me to, and a blog post isn’t a convenient medium for that kind of forensic analysis anyway. But when I can, I will take a look and give a short response to each argument.

            For the moment you’ll just have to be content with my reassurance that no argument I’ve been presented with up to now has convinced me that faith is anything more than wishful thinking, which is basically just naive longing, or in other words having faith like a child.

          • James60498 .

            I agree that a highly intelligent person believing in God is not proof of God’s existence otherwise the fact that another highly intelligent person not so believing would mean that two opposite conclusions were both correct.

            Clearly too I cannot possibly have expected you to have gone away and read everything that those people have written in the few hours between posts. That would be ridiculous and indeed impossible.

            However, my last two responses to you followed your comment, “Who says I don’t believe?”

            What you have written since suggests that the assumption that you don’t was probably reasonable, and that you don’t believe in God, albeit you are prepared to listen to alternatives. However, only you can know that.

            The first response, on the other thread, was based partly on the fact that you had received an unsatisfactory answer from the person you described as “my Priest”. It seemed reasonable at that point that if you were looking for better Christian answers that I should attempt to direct you towards some.

            I have done that now.

            There are far better theologians than I on this blog and I will leave you to them should they choose to respond.

            I hope, and indeed pray, that you will take some time to continue to search for an answer that your Priest did not give. After all, as John C Lennox, one of the Oxford Professors I referred to has said “Atheism is a fairy story for those afraid of the light”.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            By definition atheism can’t be a fairy story because it posits the existence of no being similar to a fairy, i.e. invisible, intangible and magical.

            Christianity does.

            On that basis, you can describe Christianity as a fairy story, but you cannot describe atheism as anything more than a fantasy or a fiction.

            I don’t know if I believe in God. Is that little voice a belief, or is it just a niggle? I have discussed it with my priest (who isn’t MY priest, but rather A priest with whom I have what you might term a pastoral relationship). I don’t think he knows whether I’m a Christian either, although clearly he’d like to persuade me that I am.

            He tells me I have a tendency to overthink things and that I should stand back from the problem and take a more simplistic, child-like approach to faith. It’s a bit of a theme with him, this idea of simplification, whereas I instinctively distrust simple ideas and am always looking for the detail. That’s where the devil is supposed to be, isn’t it?

          • The Explorer

            Is it possible to know what a Christian is? What would be your definition?

          • So just where did the oyster that produced the pearl come from?

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            I know that it evolved from an earlier form of life, which in its turn evolved from another, right back to the first life form, which our current state of knowledge leads us to believe (although more evidence is necessary to confirm the actual process) was generated from a combination of amino acids that came together in a warm pool somewhere on the early earth. The amino acids formed from organic molecules created by chemical reactions within the sparse circumstellar dust cloud that surrounds our sun. We know this because we’ve collected samples of that dust cloud in which organic molecules are present.

            Ancient Greeks didn’t know that however, and would probably have ascribed some kind of divine origin to the oyster, on the basis that it was better to make up a story than admit ignorance.

          • But where did these dust clouds come from?

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            From the planetary nebula resulting from a previous supernova, which itself was the result of the collapse of an early generation massive star, which formed from the primordial gas cloud, which is the earliest thing we can detect.

            Before that we don’t know what there was, although the fact that the universe is expanding means it must have originated in a much smaller region than it currently occupies, so there must have been some kind of outwards impetus imparted by a cataclysmic event of some nature. We don’t know what that event was, although for convenience’s sake we call it the Big Bang.

            That’s where knowledge ends and hypothesis takes over. Put forward a God hypothesis by all means, but all you do is move the problem of First Cause back one step. If God created the universe, who or what created God? If you attempt to circumvent the problem by making God eternal, you enter the realm of pure supposition. We have no evidence of anything being eternal. It’s no more than an idea or a fancy that we dream up in order to endow ourselves with immortality, but only on the condition that we make the right choices in this life.

            It’s certainly a seductive dream. But wanting something doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get it. No matter how hard you try.

          • Isn’t the Big Bang theory under review?
            There has to be a First Cause – and logic tells us we wouldn’t be here if there was infinite regress. And the First Cause must be self sustaining and self sufficient.

          • William Lewis

            A pool of amino acids cannot generate life. There is no information in a chemical soup.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            The transformation of organic molecules into amino acids, and from there into proteinoids, by naturally occurring physical processes has already been convincingly demonstrated under laboratory conditions. So we’re already well beyond your claim that a “chemical soup contains no information”. It most certainly does, and under the right conditions it starts to spontaneously generate the complex precursor molecules of living cells.

            Using the top down approach, research into synthetic life has advanced to the point where a bacterium with an entirely synthetic genome has already been created. The genetic material was synthesized and injected into an existing cell membrane that had been emptied of its original genetic material, so it wasn’t an entirely synthetic organism, but it still grew and multiplied and was therefore alive. The cell membrane on its own was not, according to the commonly agreed definition of life as a self-replicating system. But once artificially created genes had been injected into this inert cell membrane, a new form of life was created. It literally “came alive” and started to reproduce.

            You can therefore argue that synthetic life has already been created, because the replicative capacity of this artificial organism is entirely man-made. The Vatican refuses to accept this however, and maintains that we can’t say we’ve created life unless the cell membrane that encapsulates and makes possible the replicative process has also been artificially created. I tend to agree with this, and as research into creating artificial cell membranes is still many years away from achieving its goal, I don’t think we can say that we have yet created completely artificial life. But we’re definitely part of the way there. It’s really just a matter of time.

            Quite how the Church will cope with such an earth-shattering development is anyone’s guess. If God is not the sole creator of new life, what does that do to claims of His sovereignty over us?

            We’re not there yet and I’m sure many Christians are hoping and praying that we never get there. But given the astounding progress we’ve already made, it’s reasonable to believe we will get there one day. And as major breakthroughs can happen very quickly, what looks like a far goal today may be closer than anyone realizes.

            Christians also need to consider the very real likelihood that the first same-sex parent embryos will be created within the next couple of years. Techniques to replace the genetic material in one sex cell (sperm or ovum) with material from another have already been demonstrated. It’s just a matter of time before the first same-sex parented babies start to appear, which will really set the cat among the pigeons. How can you claim that it’s immoral to deprive a child of its mother or father when it doesn’t have one?

            It seems to me that we’re on the verge of a revolution in human reproduction and the creation of artificial life that the Church and Christianity as a whole are going to be very hard pressed to deal with. Can a God deprived of His monopoly over the creation of life still be properly considered to be God?

          • William Lewis

            Perhaps I was not clear enough. There is no information to encode life in a chemical soup. Precursor molecules of living cells do not have this information any more than the atoms that make up living entities do. And, as you seem to allude, even the genome by itself does not contain all of the information required for life – it is the interaction with the cell itself. Of course Man already has the information (he is a living being) and could, in theory, identify and copy the information to create some kind of replicating entity from scratch (a la Craig Venter), but the question remains; where has the information to encode life come from? Quantum mechanics says that information cannot be created or destroyed and renowned Atheist, Richard Dawkins, appears not to believe that the information for life pre-existed on this planet but was brought from some external source. Perhaps he does not put much faith in the theory of evolution to add new information. Some of this is discussed here, if you are interested.

            As an aside, it’s interesting to have someone else here advocate the amorality of creating motherless or fatherless children. Our last advocate appeared to have left the blog a few threads ago. The question is; can we really derive our morals from our apparent molecular makeup?

          • Anna055

            I struggled in the past with the fact that you can argue things either way. Being told to “just have faith” was both annoying and depressing. Finally it occurred to me that if you could show convincingly that Jesus rose from the dead, then it would sort of demonstrate both that God exists and that Jesus was who He said He was. I like the book “The case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, though it wasn’t around when I was looking. He’s written quite a few other similar books. Miracles are quite convincing too ….. some of them really are genuine physical miracles (not saying psychological miracles aren’t genuine, just that they’re more difficult to assess). Try also a couple of books by Geoff and Hope Price: “Angels” and “Miracles”. I have met the authors and they are perfectly ordinary people (he is a church of england vicar – though he might be retired now). I also like the concept of telling God you’re having trouble and asking Him to show you the truth. You don’t have to believe in Him to ask Him things.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            As a genre I find apologetics dissatisfying.

            Starting from a predetermined conclusion and trying to prove it right forces apologists to behave like defence lawyers. The aim is not to arrive at the truth but rather to win the argument.

            Strobel is particularly guilty of this kind of behaviour. Not surprising when you realise he’s a lawyer.

            The only kind of investigation of Christianity that would satisfy me would be a scientific study with a sold methodology and peer-reviewed results carried out by impartial researchers who do not have a vested interest in arriving at a specific conclusion. Everything else is just propaganda.

            And in terms of asking God for anything, it’s hard to know what to ask. If he hasn’t given it to anyone else, He’s not going to give me incontrovertible evidence of his existence, is he? At most I might get a warm fuzzy feeling that He really does exist, but what does that prove? Would it be God, or would it be me talking myself into something? This is the problem with inner voices and feelings. You never know exactly who’s speaking!

            A nice earth shattering miracle visible to millions might do it. It can’t just be my judgment at stake, because who am I to judge? It’s not always appropriate to believe what you see because often your vision is hampered by the angle of your view.

            At the moment I know of no miraculous event that can’t be explained as a perfectly ordinary phenomenon, or dismissed as highly embroidered, imaginary or even purposely falsified. So all works of apologetics have to be taken with a very large grain of salt. All they really do is tell you what others want to believe.

          • The Explorer

            I remember from my childhood a picture of Archimedes being killed by a soldier. Archimedes was clever, and the soldier wasn’t. So it doesn’t follow that the higher will triumph over the lower; sometimes it can be the other way round. When the Dark Ages came, or Constantinople fell, something more civilised was defeated by something less civilised but with more brute power. The European incursions of Attila the Hun were new, but not evidence of progress.

            So I query your apparent assumption that change must be upward. It may be downward. I’m also not sure that Secular Humanism is a particularly new form of thought. I’d say it’s mostly old Epicureanism, repackaged in a new guise.

            As for Islam being a distraction, I personally don’t think so. It may be a long-waiting menace whose time has finally come. Secular humanism is scared stiff of it.

          • Hmmm … doubtful, in Jack’s opinion.

          • The Explorer

            Hope you’re right: even if it is a choice between Scylla and Charybdis.

          • In Jack’s opinion, the West will slowly slip into paganism tinged with Eastern ‘spirituality’ and secular humanism. When order collapses, as it will, some malign power will emerge.

          • The Explorer

            That all sounds like very sound analysis: just look at any New-Age shop, and listen to popular conversation about crystals, lei lines, tai chi, yoga etc. I just think the emerging malign power might well be Islam: by the time of indigenous Europe’s collapse it will probably have become Europe’s largest religion.

          • The Arab nations can’t govern themselves let alone rule the world. Islam will eventually succumb to syncretism too.

          • The Explorer

            Mind you, look at the spread and duration of the Ottoman Empire. And who says the Islamic leader would have to be an Arab? But I know that predictions are very dangerous, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of making them. All we have been told is that at the end there will be a global system in opposition to Christianity.

          • Some would argue that the global system in opposition to Christianity is already here.

          • Orwell Ian

            I think its more likely to be world government headed by an absolute ruler. A global version of North Korea. All religions crushed and replaced by emperor worship.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, unless the world leader is Islamic. Some pundits predict that Islam will have overtaken Christianity as the world’s largest religion within twenty years. As one who believes in a prophetic element to ‘Revelation’ that would come as no surprise to me. If I were to guess a globally-powerful system in opposition to the people of the Lamb, my money would be on Islam rather than Secular Humanism. Islam is willing to produce martyrs (well, those ready to die for their faith) and Secular Humanism, by and large, is not.

          • Ivan M

            Islam is nothing but control of fertility and access to freebies. Take that away and it whithers. With the ISIS it has thrown its last dice for the time being. How well are they doing? Crush the price of oil, and you will see a real difference.

    • Johnny Rottenborough

      @ In Perfect Ignorance—Since its very beginnings our Faith has always been the challenger. It’s always challenged other creeds and won

      Islam challenged Christianity in St Augustine’s home, Hippo, in 698. Christianity lost, as it is currently losing in the Middle East. Although Christianity is morally superior to Islam in every way imaginable, Islam has the tactical edge in that it comes bundled with blind devotion and a propensity to violence. Previous Muslim assaults on Europe were repelled because (a) Christians then were ready to wage war to defend their faith and (b) rulers and ruled were fighting on the same side. These days, neither (a) nor (b) applies, with both church and state extending the warmest of welcomes to Islam.

    • Mungling

      I would be far more inclined to believe that Christianity is being supplanted by a “superior philosophy” if I felt that most people were carefully weighing that arguments for against Christianity and Secular Humanism. As it stands, I do not believe that this is the case. Most people default to Secular Humanism not being they have been convinced by the evidence but because they haven’t bothered to consider the evidence at all.

      Unlike Christianity, Secular Humanism makes no moral claims, asks nothing of adherents, and allows its “followers” to do whatever they want. It is the perfect complement to a culture primarily motivated by hedonism. I don’t mean to imply that this is true of all Secular Humanists – I understand that many people do take a thorough survey of the evidence and cannot come to agree with any religious system – but I think this is true in the vast majority of cases.

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        But how many choose to become Christians? Most are raised in the Faith, and even its initial adoption was a political act imposed from on high by emperors and kings.

        How many people in times past chose to be Christian in the face of heresy laws and social pressure?

        I would maintain that if Christianity really were a choice then the number of its adherents would be even smaller than today. Indeed this is probably where the Church is heading. Take away the element of coercion and make piety a choice and you end up with the situation we have today.

        • Mungling

          Oh I agree with you. I think most people of any society at any time in history go with the flow. In the past, when the West was Christian, I don’t think very many people thought about why they were Christian either. People are like water and follow the path of least resistance. Secular humanism just so happens to have less resistance than Christianity.

    • You want “incontrovertible evidence”?

      Christ spoke in Parables for a reason. Do you know what that reason was?

      • In Perfect Ignorance

        I think so. Jesus was a Jew and parables are part of the Jewish teaching tradition, as evidenced by their use in the Old Testament. So Jesus was behaving like any Jew of His period who wanted to convey religious instruction. Parables were the preferred medium then, just as a tweet or a blog post might be now.

        • Jesus answered the question Himself:

          “It is granted to you to understand the secret of God’s kingdom; for those others, who stand without, all is parable: so they must watch and watch, yet never see, must listen and listen, yet never understand, nor ever turn back, and have their sins forgiven them.”

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            All that tells me is that Jesus (or the person reporting and perhaps transforming his words) believed that if I agreed with Him I would be part of the in crowd and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be. It doesn’t prove to me that He actually said those things. It doesn’t prove to me that they’re true. It sets up a moral imperative without providing any justification except divine command, i.e. Jesus said it, so it must be true.

            Did He say it? And even if He did, is it true? Believing it is an act of faith, and faith in Jesus depends on accepting his miraculous resurrection as the truth. And that’s where it gets difficult. It’s impossible to believe without suspending disbelief to the point of culpable naivety, and yet there’s still the little voice that whispers “it really happened”. And another little voice that says, rather louder, “bollocks! it can’t have…”

          • Well there you go then. Faith is a gift from God which we can deny and reject. Indeed, we only accept faith because God’s grace moves us to do so. The unanswered question is why this grace is efficacious for some men but not all men.
            Jesus spoke in Parables to work on men’s hearts, not just their heads. Jack believes He didn’t want people compelled to accept Him through fear. Let’s face it, Jesus has absolute power. He could convert all men in a moment. Why doesn’t He?

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Faith has to stand or fall when judged against rational criteria. If I can’t explain my faith with reference to corroborating evidence that hangs together in a logical and convincing manner, then all I’m saying is “I believe in God because I want to believe in God”. I could also say “I believe in pink unicorns because I want to believe in pink unicorns”. I’ll never see one though.

            If faith has no rational basis then it isn’t faith so much as fantasy. This is where I classify God: a nice story, but the total lack of corroborating evidence keeps Him firmly fixed in the realm of fiction, along with Aslan, and Iluvatar, and Yog-Sothoth.

          • Well, you carry on then in your unbelief and lack of openness to faith. God granted you this freedom and He doesn’t go where He’s not welcomed.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            It’s this kind of reaction that confirms my opinion that if there really is a God, He must be an incredibly strange and inhuman deity. Which seems bizarre and contradictory when you think we’re supposed to be created in His image.

            How many human fathers would shrug their shoulders at a recalcitrant and uncooperative son and say “it’s not my fault” when through ignorance and/or stubbornness he ends up harming or even killing himself?

            Most fathers would try their level best to explain to their child why his behaviour was harmful. But all God does is hide away and leave us to deal with our own mess. All appeals for assistance are met with silence, and our only option is to refer to a cryptic and disputed document that can’t be proven to be of divine origin, and that’s so difficult to interpret and understand with any degree of consistency that literally thousands of different interpretations are possible. This gives rise to a bewildering array of competing churches and cults, most of whom present themselves as the “one true Church”. Who among them speaks on behalf of God? All of them? None of them? Who can tell?

            In effect God projects an image of a remote and uncaring father who’s so uninterested in His children that he just can’t be bothered to show us he exists. He’s supposed to have sent us his only son to provide a way to salvation, but we have no proof of this beyond a story. How can you put your faith in a literary hero every bit as improbable as, and certainly no more convincing than, Gandalf or Superman?

            I know I can’t. Faith has to be based on more than wishful thinking and a desire for daddy to hold our hands and make everything all better otherwise it’s indistinguishable from childish fantasy.

          • What was your relationship with your earthly father like? God loved you so much that He became incarnate in the person of the Son and died for you. He sends you sufficient grace to open your heart to Him but leaves the choice to you about whether you cooperate or not. Jack is a Roman Catholic, so he understands there is only one true interpretation of scripture and only one true understanding of God, scriptures and the path to salvation.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            I’m not sure my relationship with my father has any bearing on my opinion of God. I’ve heard a pop psychology theory that says we tend to think of God as being similar in character to our father, but that’s a little too easy in my opinion.

            I know people who grew up without a father, or with an inadequate or negative paternal influence, who are committed Christians and see God as overwhelmingly positive. I know others who had good relationships with their fathers, but who don’t believe in God at all, or like me, believe that if he does exist, he must be at best indifferent to us, or at worst actively malevolent.

            My experience of good fathering was a man who was there to guide and reassure. He didn’t write down a set of cryptic rules and regulations when I was born, order me to follow them or come a specific point in my life I’d be punished – for the rest of time, no less!, and then bugger off and leave me to fend for myself.

          • No …. and neither has God, Our Father, done what you accuse Him of. What He offers is a living relationship that leads to Him for eternity and He provides all the assistance we need. Indeed, He does all the work if we but let Him. The ‘rules’ are not cryptic they really are common sense once you appreciate the reason for God’s Law is our individual and common happiness in this life and life with Him for eternity thereafter.

          • chiefofsinners

            As Jack said above, God doesn’t want people compelled to accept Him through fear. You have free will to choose God and love what is good. Or not. If God proved His existence to you in some additional awesome way you would be robbed of your free will and your capacity to choose. God will do everything possible to reach you without crossing this line.
            By the way, ‘made in the image of God’ essentially means a three part being: body, soul and spirit.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Sorry, but your argument does not stand up to logical examination. Proof of God’s existence cannot rob us of free will. We know this for a fact because of what happened to Adam and Eve.

            The first man and woman knew that God existed and was who He said He was, but they still managed to fall. They could not have fallen without free will, therefore we have incontrovertible proof that knowledge of God’s divinity does NOT deprive us of free will.

            God has no fundamental obligation to hide Himself from us. He does so because He wants to, not because He needs to. It’s this exercise of arbitrary will in depriving us of knowledge that could help us, but not force us, to admit His sovereignty that renders God so very unsympathetic as a character. He clearly is NOT doing everything he could be doing to help us to salvation. So what sort of a loving father does that make Him?

          • chiefofsinners

            Yes, good point. The answer is in the detail.

            Adam and Eve knew God on one level. He walked with them in the garden. But they did not know his character sufficiently to obey Him. Crucially they did not know good from evil. We do, and so we have more knowledge than them in this way, but less in terms of direct experience.
            Eve was deceived by the serpent, who said ‘you will not die’. She chose to believe that God was a liar, that God had forbidden the fruit because he wanted to withhold good from her. That He was, as you say, unsympathetic as a character. You express the same sentiments as the serpent: What sort of a loving father does that make Him?
            Adam chose to listen to his wife rather than God.
            We all face similar choices.

          • chiefofsinners

            Good point. The answer is in the detail.
            Adam and Eve had more direct experience of God but in another way they knew Him less well: they did not have the knowledge of good and evil so they did not appreciate His character as we do.
            Eve chose to believe what the serpent said of God. That God was withholding good from her. The sentiments are the same as those you express – that God has an unsympathetic character so what sort of a loving father does that make Him?
            Adam chose to listen to his wife rather than God.
            We all face similar choices. Who will we listen to? What will we believe about God?
            We can also see the effect it had when Adam and Eve had both the knowledge of God’s character and direct experience of Him. They hid in fear. God does not want us to hide from Him in fear. What kind of a loving father would that make Him?

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            Again, the problem is that when you apply logic to a Christian story, it falls to pieces.

            How could Adam and Eve hide from God? God is omniscient, therefore logic tells us that it must be impossible to hide from Him.

            If Adam and Eve didn’t realise this after their direct, one-on-one relationship with Him, then one has to ask questions about their intelligence and perception. Are we dealing with human beings, or Australopithecines incapable of complex deduction? And what should we say about a God who was willing to condemn these naive Australopithecines to death and destruction for disobeying a command they weren’t equipped to understand properly?

            It seems to me that God set His trap and was more than satisfied to see it snap shut behind us. At any given point He must have known what would happen, otherwise He can’t be omniscient. So He created us knowing we would fall.

            The only conclusion it is possible to draw is that our fall serves His purposes. So I wonder what we have to feel guilty about, given that we’re just playing out what He knew would be the outcome of creating us.

            I see God, if he exists, as the ultimate manipulator. We’re cogs in His machine. And it’s a machine that grinds exceeding small, and rarely to our benefit. We can’t hope to outwit Him. But must we love Him when we’re so clearly just pawns to be sacrificed for whatever strategic advantage we were designed to bring Him?

          • chiefofsinners

            “How could Adam and Eve hide from God? God is omniscient, therefore logic tells us that it must be impossible to hide from Him.”
            Exactly so. But humans are illogical. When faced with God and sin we do try to hide. Adam tried to hide because he knew he was naked. Some hide in bushes, some try to hide behind their own logic. How foolish is that? As you say ‘we can’t outwit Him’. So why are you trying so hard?
            Adam and Eve were guilty of disobedience. All of us are equally guilty.
            Read on and you find that God made a covering for Adam. Read further and you find that God Himself suffered the punishment for Adam’s sin, so that Adam and his race could be forgiven. If God set a trap, He set it for Himself. The machine ground Him exceeding small, and entirely to our benefit. Pawns for whom the King was sacrificed.

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            I’m not trying to outwit God. I’m merely following Christian belief through to its logical end. If God is omniscient He knows all. He knew that Adam and Eve would disobey his command not to eat from the tree, and yet He left the tree in a place He knew they would find it, and made no attempt to protect them from the machinations of the serpent. One can only conclude that the Fall was part of His plan for us. If not, and He just stood by and let His children make the ultimate fatal mistake, what sort of a father does that make Him? Rather feckless by human standards, don’t you think?

            The idea of God as both omnipotent and feckless is logically absurd, therefore the only explanation is that the Fall was part of His plan for us. And yet all the guilt for it gets heaped on humanity.

            And please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming that God “died”. Death is a permanent state. What Christ suffered was the temporary suspension of his life functions, not death. There may have been physical suffering, but there can have been no fear of obliteration or eternal annihilation, because if there were, he wouldn’t have been omniscient and therefore couldn’t be God.

            You could liken his experience of death to that of rich kids like Prince William sleeping rough for a night to “help them understand how the other half lives”. It’s a total joke! One night in a sleeping bag on a cold street does not teach you what life is like for the homeless. If you know that that the next morning you’re going home to your palace, the discomforts of a few hours shivering on a street are easy to bear. You may feel a little bit chilly, but you can never know the hopelessness, alienation and despair of having no home to go to.

            God may have experienced the mechanics of death, but He cannot have personally experienced what we experience in terms of fear of the unknown, panic and doubt. He was assured of a glorious resurrection. We’re assured of nothing. His death was the equivalent of Prince William’s night under the arches: a rich kid’s stunt. It cost Him little and gave Him only the most superficial knowledge of the experience of death. As sacrifices go, it doesn’t seem particularly impressive to me.

          • chiefofsinners

            The doctrine of the atonement is that Christ bore the punishment for the sin of the whole world. An eternal, infinite punishment could only be borne in a fixed period of time by an eternal, infinite being. And he died the death of a human body, as most of us will, and was raised to eternal life, as some of us will be. It’s a bit more than a night sleeping rough.
            Yes, God must have known Adam and Eve would sin but still created them with free will, knowing that all of the above would be necessary in order to reach the goal of having children who fully knew Him and had chosen to spend eternity with Him.
            It’s all mind boggling, of course. But you’d expect God to be that, wouldn’t you?

          • In Perfect Ignorance

            God already has children to spend eternity with. Children who are just as imbued with free will as us. Or are the angels not enough for Him?

            Quite honestly if the whole purpose of our existence is to provide God with eternal playmates, at the price ofl damnation for a good part, if not the majority, of the human race, then God has a problem. How is He going to enjoy eternity with millions of souls languishing in hell? How are we (or you rather, because I clearly won’t be one of the elect) going to experience bliss in paradise when you know that many of your loved ones will be being tortured forever?

            What will God do? Strike you with amnesia? Excise any memory of lost souls? And what of His conscience? He’s omniscient, so He can’t conveniently forget about the lost billions roasting in hell. Unless He’s so inhuman as to not give a damn about them because they “deserve” to be punished for all eternity, isn’t God going to have a hard time feeling much bliss with all that lamentation going on?

            The Christian vision of paradise is untenable. In order to enjoy it, a large part of our identity will have to be obliterated. So what will we be? Robotic worship machines drugged up on divine bliss? And Christians criticize drug users! Why, I wonder? All they’re doing is anticipating eternity.

          • chiefofsinners

            Many questions.
            Two things to know about questions: 1) not all our questions are answered by God, presumably because He is incomprehensible to the human mind. 2) Following from this, if you wait until all your questions are answered before becoming a Christian, then you will not become a Christian. Christianity is a faith.
            As for the specifics of your questions:
            Two of the greatest truths about God are that God is love and God is good.
            God’s love for us leads to His willingness to suffer the punishment for sin in order that we might spend eternity with Him. If you want to belittle that with the term ‘playmates’ you can, and if you don’t want to love Him back, that’s your choice.
            God’s goodness means that He cannot tolerate sin. The eternal separation of those who have knowingly chosen sin is therefore a good thing. Not something to take pleasure in, but right. Paradise is impossible otherwise.
            Identities obliterated… yes. The bad bits. That is why the Christian life is a journey to become more like Christ. Depending on how like Him we become, more or less of ourselves will be obliterated, but that will be a good thing.
            Angels… God’s servants. A different order of created being that we don’t know much about. If angels rebel, they have done so in full knowledge of the truth and goodness of God and of the consequences. Like humans who permanently reject the gospel, they are beyond redemption. I’m not sure why God has created different orders of beings, but they were all created for His pleasure, are objects of His love and are freely offered the benefits of His goodness.

  • Busy Mum

    Anyone who is happy to help a ‘competent’ adult out of this world is going to have no qualms at all about despatching those who are deemed to be ‘incompetent’…

  • carl jacobs

    This question keeps re-emerging because the primary opposing force is residual Christian memory. There is a form of cultural inertia that carries a moral proposition into the future even as the impelling force behind that proposition disappears. People still resist out of moral revulsion but without any coherent rationale. Habits die hard. But every year the resistance weakens, and the proponents know it. Slowly but surely, the old religious ways of thinking (“You are bought with a price”) give way to the new world view (“I am my own sovereign master.”) The war is a war of attrition.

    Besides, the dirty little secret is that people aren’t all that distressed about involuntary euthanasia. Once you establish a utilitarian ethic of life, you teach people that some lives aren’t worth living. It’s a small step from “That life isn’t worth living” to “That life shouldn’t be lived.”

  • Mungling

    I think that the issue of assisted suicide will continue to rear its ugly head until we get better at presenting a compelling alternative. Clearly, people are scared stiff of dying under “our” (although I’m speaking here as a Canadian) healthcare system. I’m not sure I blame them. Everyone is worried about severe, uncontrollable pain or the discomfort of dying in a hospital.Until those issues are addressed, this issue won’t die.

    Fortunately, we can present a compelling alternative. At the moment, end-of-life isn’t poor because a lack of a capability but a lack of will. We possess the tools to help patients die in a peaceful, more natural way but we’ve failed to equip our physicians with the tools to facilitate that process. Anecdotaly, the average veterinarian has more training with end-of-life care than the average physician. An effective campaign against assisted suicide will be one which also advocates for better palliative care. When people see that they won’t have to die in pain and misery, I think that the cultural push for assisted suicide will rapidly disappear.

    I should point out there will always be extreme cases in which pain can neither be eliminated nor controlled, and that people will wish to end their lives no matter the level of palliative care. Some people will always advocate for assisted suicide as an expression of autonomy. Others will wish for assisted suicide do to a desire to control their death or out of a desire to prevent the perceived indignities of physical or mental illness. There’s a lot of issues there that all require separate remedies.

    Ultimately, there are issues that must be addressed, but it is my hope that those opposed to assisted suicide will be able to propose a better way to address these issues.

    • I think it’s true that we vets see far more terminal patients than doctors ever do (animals having so much shorter lives) and the mandate that is branded into all of us is this – that our patient may not be permitted to continue suffering when all we can do to alleviate it has been tried and has failed. But this is an animal. It cannot choose for itself, it has no concept of past or future. It only knows that in this endless, agonising Now, that it hurts and nobody is doing anything about it. I get tired of saying over and over to people that there is no possible direct comparison to human end of life care. It is already the case that in terminal cancer, increasing doses of opioids are used to control pain and that a side effect of this is going to be respiratory depression which will ultimately shorten the patient’s life. But that is not why they are given. They are given to control pain which is no longer possible to control any other way. And if they are given with the intent to shorten life, then that is murder. Even if the patient wishes the doctor to do it. That is the final line that the proponents of assisted dying want to cross, and I am very afraid of what will happen if they succeed.

      • My father, God rest his soul, when he was dying was rigged up to an opiate system that allowed him to self administer morphine for the relief of his severe pain. He asked for it to be removed in case he unintentionally or, worse, deliberately killed himself. He wanted to die. He knew the time wasn’t his to choose.

      • Mungling

        I should stress that unlike most comparison between human palliative care and animal euthanasia, I wasn’t (intentionally at least) arguing that since animals can be Euthanasia so should humans. I simply think it illustrates the fact that we have a long way to go in training doctors to be prepared to help a patient peacefully pass during their end of life. Once the training and resources are in place, I think we can expect far fewer patients desiring assisted suicide.

        On that note, I was able to attend on a recent gathering of Christian physicians discussing the topic of Euthanasia. As part of the presentation, it was claimed that about 97% of pain can be controlled or eliminated and other techniques can be used in the remaining 3% of cases. Unfortunately, most physicians aren’t trained in using those techniques. As a result a lot of suffering we do see tends to be needless suffering.

  • David

    Respect for adult life, if not the unborn, is one of the few vestiges of our formerly Christian culture.
    Like so many other attitudes and social practices of enormous value, respect for adult life will diminish as those last vestiges slip away.
    All over former Christendom the inner barbarian, the Paul’s “natural man”
    is emerging !
    But heartening changes of attitude seem to be developing in relation to abortion, according to the Christian media I read. Perhaps that’s the better battleground for the first push-back against the death merchants ?

    • DanJ0

      Death merchants? It really doesn’t help you to portray people with differing standpoints to you in such a way, you know. You just get written off.

      • David

        Your linguistic sensitivity is noted.

        • DanJ0

          Okay. Your ridiculous hyperbole was noted.

          • “Murdering bastards” may have been slight hyperbole.

          • DanJ0

            You let those ‘murderers’ murder ‘babies’ on a daily basis as you sit in your armchair sucking on a werthers original and playing your trollish games on the internet every night. When you demonstrate that you honestly consider it murder, feel free to get back to me with some actual outrage.

          • What would you have us do? Blow up abortion clinics? Kill abortionists?

            Do we have the authority to do those things? Do we have the right?

          • DanJ0

            I expect you to do whatever you’d do if someone was murdering the local babies and children daily where you live and the police steadfastly refused to intervene. That’s if you think zygotes, blastocysts, embryos, and early foetuses are the equivalent of babies and children, of course, and that it is actually murder to abort the pregnancy. But perhaps commenting online is all you and others would do anyway and my attempting to hold you to account amounts to nothing.

      • Inspector General

        Just like Sky Fairy then…

        • DanJ0

          Well, quite.

      • carl jacobs

        What exactly is an abortionist selling then? Pastries? There is no question that an abortionist ends a life. That he does so is a biological fact. The question is not the fact of death but the significance of that death.

        It isn’t hyperbole let alone ridiculous hyperbole. It’s an accurate description. But I suppose it’s easier to hide it behind euphemisms.

      • Different “standpoint”? Try putting it that way to a child in the womb being aborted.

        • DanJ0

          What would be the point of that? When that ‘person’ is a zygote or a blastocyst it has no brain with which to engage, or pretty much anything else really, other than some cell walls and the DNA.

          • Well then, the decent thing to do is to wait until he or she is old enough to be consulted.
            So is “it” animal, vegetable or mineral when “it” is a zygote or a blastocyst?

          • DanJ0

            That sounds like you’re accepting that it’d be the decent thing to do for the ‘merchants of death’ to consult with people who are compos mentis whether they wish to die a little earlier at the very end of their lives too. Of course at that point, those are undoubtedly people whereas zygotes and blastocysts are simply cells which have the potential, with a fair wind, to become people later.

          • It would still would make them “merchants of death” peddling … well, death. However, at least those “buying the product” have some opportunity to decide. Although even this “freedom” will be constrained by circumstances and it’s unclear if it would be given with full understanding and complete assent.

          • When I am asleep I can’t engage with anyone, does that mean when I am asleep it’s ok to kill me?

          • DanJ0

            Huh? A zygote has no brain with which to be conscious or unconscious. It a very different thing to you, whether you are asleep or awake.

          • How is it different, we’re both living beings who will (bar death or severe injury in the meantime) eventually be conscious but aren’t at the moment.

          • DanJ0

            You’re asking what the difference is between you and (say) a fused sperm and ovum? The implication being that there’s no effective significance between that difference, and the difference in you when you’re awake and asleep, it seems. Blimey.

          • A fused sperm and ovum are just the very early developmental stage of a human being. A preconscious stage. When I am asleep I am in another state where I am not conscious. If consciousness is your definition for “can we kill it” I say it should be as reasonable to kill a sleeping person as it is to kill a person in a developmental stage prior to the development of mental consciousness (since of course even individual cells have the capacity to sense their environment and react to it as does a sleeping person or animal).

            I won’t even bring up severely mentally disabled or injured people since I am well aware that there’s plenty of people around who think it’s just fine and dandy to murder them.

          • DanJ0

            “If consciousness is your definition for “can we kill it” […]”

            But I haven’t defined it as that at all. For sure, as far as I am concerned a person has consciousness at any given point because he has a brain but there’s rather more to being a person than that, I think.

            “a person in a developmental stage”

            If a zygote is a person as far as you’re concerned then why not a cell of skin which contains the DNA? But perhaps it’s the potential that’s important there. If so then why not reverse a little more and consider the potential of a separate ovum and a separate sperm to combine into a person?

            Fertile women produce ova every month. Men have many millions of sperms available at any given time, and if one has the opportunity to fuse then a zygote is the result. Who are we to deny that opportunity? Not having sex is a moral act in itself with respect to that potential person, surely?

          • A cell in my arm is not a coherent whole with internal directedness to becoming a fully formed adult. A zygote is. It may be a lot further from it’s destination than a fetus or a baby or a teenager – but it’s on the path and if it doesn’t meet with misfortune it will get there.

            A skin cell will only ever be a skin cell. That you can’t tell the difference is odd.

            Potential persons are not persons, they don’t exist. It’s an entirely different situation to not bring into existence someone who doesn’t exist. Although I *would* contend that it’s a very good thing to bring someone into existence. It is not however a crime not to do so while it’s very much a crime to purposefully cut short the life of someone who already exists, however young and undeveloped they are.

          • DanJ0

            “A skin cell will only ever be a skin cell. That you can’t tell the difference is odd.”

            You seem to have missed the bit that followed immediately on from that about potential.

            “Potential persons are not persons, they don’t exist.”

            Well, quite. A zygote is just a potential person. At that point in time, it’s a fused ovum and sperm. Immediately before coming together, the potential person was the ovum and that particular sperm of many. Preventing their coming together is interfering with its time line, which is surely a moral act itself with respect to the potential person. There was a future person there who will no longer get to live as a human being.

      • What is someone who is selling death (that is trying to sell the idea that we should have ceirtain people killed) if not a death merchant?

  • The Explorer

    These people who are so keen to get this bill passed. Who is the target: they themselves, or other people? Do they want to make sure they don’t die in pain; or do they want to thin out those causing a drain on the NHS?

    • Mungling

      I think it may be targeted toward the self more than you might think. People have an experience of a loved one suffering may feel that if they were to experience the same end-of-life experience, they would like the option for a quiet death.

      • The Explorer

        Yes, that’s very understandable.

        • Jack believes many of the Bill’s supporters may well be motivated by selfless reasons and are seeking to end ‘unnecessary’ pain and suffering. In a world of moral relativism, why be surprised?

          • Orwell Ian

            In a world of moral relativity and incrementalism, I wouldn’t be surprised if future historians express irony that some of those who had sponsored these measures were the very people whose eventual and unintended departure was “assisted” with the connivance of their own offspring.

          • “Offspring” … there’s a dying expression.

      • carl jacobs

        Perhaps. But many a decision made in the abstract is reversed when the abstract becomes reality. Don’t trust what people think they will want given some hypothetical. Ask them when the hypothetical is staring them in the face.

    • DanJ0

      Personally, I want the option for myself. However, I think putting this into law will result in it being abused or ending up as a slippery slope. There will be all sorts of hard cases in future which will push at the edges.

  • len

    Call me cynical but any talk of ‘assisted dying’ opens a whole can of worms in my estimation….
    The old the sick the infirm are seen by many as ‘a burden’ on society and a way to ‘dispatch them ‘ would solve many problems in the world of those to whom money has become their god.

    I have always reckoned that any society that’ terminates’ the defenceless infant in the womb would eventually turn their attention to the other end of the scale and seek means to justify carrying out the same process on the elderly.
    It is a true measure of a society how it treats the old the infirm the disadvantaged in their society..

  • Inspector General

    “I’ve hurried here. You wanted to see me Matron?”

    “I’m so sorry madam, but your demented aged mother was such a disruptive handful in our nursing home that we’ve had to have her euthanized. I do have the welfare of my staff to think of, you know.”

    “How could you? She lives with me, and was only bringing fruit in for dad, and she wasn’t demented, I’ll have you know!”

    “Ah, that was your father was it who tried to stop us, and unfortunately collapsed and died in doing so…”

    “Heavens, there’s another shock! Poor daddy. Whatever next? Anyway, all that aside, and looking positively, it does seem rather ordered and quiet in here today”

    “Yes, we’ve managed to cultivate a sombre ‘death row’ culture among the surviving residents. We’re rather proud of that as it happens. Life is so much easier that way, we find.”

    “Yes, you’re right. But what’s that smell in the air though.”

    “That smell, yes. Well, let’s just say its days are ‘numbered’ shall we…” {Ahem}

  • Inspector General

    Inspector back. He’d been out taking the air, and watching the tattooed wretches making their way to town. Should this bill succeed, or the next one, or the one after that, one doesn’t give them too much hope in an old peoples home, or more likely as they will be known by then ‘Assessment Station’.

  • Dreadnaught

    I maintain that I and only I, shall decide whether to be or not to be. The sooner the concept of a living will, made when fully competent and revokable by me at any time, is considered the same as basic as the human right to live freely etc etc, the happier I will be.
    Medicine and science is enabling us to live longer than ever, what it cant do is deliver a quality of life deliverable at 90 compared to that at 60. I am the only one who can ever be the judge in that respect. Absolutely I have no qualms about death, only the manner in which I approach that date. My life. My death. My business.

    • Inspector General

      Sweat not, Dreadnaught. When the time comes, a bottle of the finest aged malt,

      • Inspector, one trusts you have made all the necessary arrangements for your brain to be donated for medical research.

        • Inspector General

          We must respects Dreadnaught’s lack of faith…

          • Accept rather than respect, surely?

          • Inspector General

            Jack. Respect / Accept. And why not? The man isn’t a Christian, so why should we show antipathy to his personal decision. You might learn from this and stop antagonising him and DanJ0. We might even gain their respect and perhaps support for the Christian cause of not letting our society get any slacker than it already is.

      • Dreadnaught

        Already signed up IGs, leaving it to the medics (for my sins).

        • Inspector General

          As you will have it Dredders. If you shake off your mortal in your houseboat, you might even find a way to scuttle the thing during. Go out in style, what!

          • Dreadnaught

            Egad Sir! Mr Memory Man or what? – not much wrong with your brain cell I’m happy to report; you should consider leaving it to science as proof that alcohol is not as damaging to the brain as thought.

          • Inspector General

            Nothing to it dear fellow. You see, when you come across a peculiar sort, you tend to recall the experience ; – >

    • Mungling

      You’re perfectly free to take your own life now. That is, as you say, your business.

      Unfortunately, by including the health care system in your decision, it is no longer your business. Decisions like this don’t exist in a vacuum. Choosing to legalize assisted suicide for extreme, medical reasons affects the way people consider suicide in all cases. While you may be capable of making a competent, rational decision about living or ceasing to live, their are plenty of people out there who are contemplating suicide who do not need the extra push that widespread social acceptance of suicide will bring. How many people will “cheat” the system? How many depressed patients will slip through the screening? How many doctors will even care to screen? Most doctors struggle with the decision to take away a patient’s license; how the heck are they to figure out whether they can authorize you to take your life? How many sick people will be pushed into a decision they don’t really want by their family or physicians? How many many patients will choose to end their life when they really would have been much happier dying a natural death.

      I know plenty of people who would say all the above a reasons are negligible, or unimportant, or outweighed by the potential benefit. That’s a perfectly fine argument. I just don’t think it would be correct to say that a decision like this will only result in competent, rational adults having a greater control over their life in death. There will be unintended consequences.

      • Dreadnaught

        The whole point is that I don’t want the health care officios involved at all – I am capable of making my own arrangements when the time comes but want to protect my decision and my family from interference from the state or the police.
        Its ok apparently for the state to send me to die in battle or as civillian collateral damage, whether I want to or not, but not ok to allow me to make that decision for myself at a time of my own choosing.
        Not if I can fix it Matey.

  • Will the application to a Judge be funded by legal aid?

  • michaelkx

    if those who are dying were look after and given the proper medical care,( not having the cry of it is to expensive, we have not got the staff, plenty of pen pushers but not enough nursing staff.) As my late wife had in the hospice, there would be no need for this bill, it is only a two fingerer’s up to GOD to say we are in control now so go away. if the NHS was run as it was envisaged, we would not be having this augment. But with this government and its friends hoping to git there grubby for profit hands on the NHS. This bill may be the only thing that will stop the suffering.

  • len

    Bit tragic if someone took ‘the assisted dying option’ and then a cure came out which would have saved them?.

  • DanJ0