No wine for communion? – Swine flu

The Catholic church is being particularly careful about Swine Flu.

Specifically, the bishops have requested that receiving Communion on the tongue, Communion wine from the chalice and shaking hands at the sign of peace at Masses in New Zealand cease.

Now that sounds reasonable. However the television news has been giving the impression that the communion wine is being withdrawn completely (it is generally served from a single cup in Catholic churches).

Holy Communion is the only ritual the Christian Church has. It is how Christ himself commanded we were to remember His death, and is not something anyone has a right to remove either element from. It is celebrated by all denominations, with some variations in style, but the essential elements (the body and the blood) are always there.

I don’t trust the news to report such issues accurately, so could a Catholic reader please confirm whether the wine is actually being withdrawn, or being offered in individual cups (as many Protestant churches already do)?

Offering in individual cups would be a sensible precaution. But no church has the right to entirely remove what Christ has established.I hope no church will put convenience and fear before remembering Christ.

UPDATE: According to ZenTiger and Lucyna Maria (see the comments here), the wine is being withdrawn, at least in their churches. Utterly disgraceful.

You may be interested in:
Swine Flu Myths (by MacDoctor – keep an eye on MacDoctor for good info on swine flu from a medical perspective).
Swine flu – false alarm? (New Zealand Conservative)

Is an embryo a person 2 – Twinning

One argument commonly put forward for why the embryo is not a human in the first 14 days or so of life, before implantation, is that it may yet divide into twins. If it can become two individuals, the logic goes, how can we say it is now a person? It must be in a pre-person state until it becomes two separate people.

Twinning is basically a cloning process, or a form of asexual reproduction. The one embryo splits into two pieces, which each grow into identical twins.

If we consider this from a purely atheistic perspective, the argument rapidly falls apart. Just because something may later become two individuals doesn’t mean it is not an individual before then.

If a bacterium divides to produce two identical clones, does that mean it was not an individual bacterium before the cloning? Of course not.

If the technology ever becomes available to clone a human adult (some claim it has already been done), a human adult could later become two humans. Does this mean the adult was not a human before the cloning?

The embryo is one human. If at some later point it can become two humans, that does not detract at all from the fact that it is already human. It only means that by killing it you have cut off the potential for two lives rather than only one – which is twice as bad.

Now if we add the Christian perspective, that humans are not only physical but also have a soul, you may be able to say the embryo is not human before it divided because the individual twins were not given souls until they separated.

But how do you know? This is pure speculation. God may do that, or He may give one soul at conception and a second one when twinning occurs, or (knowing twinning will occur) he may give both souls from the start… The Bible never says. We can speculate for ever but will never reach an answer. It is best to forget this line of reasoning and focus on the physical.

So whether you are atheist or Christian, the twinning argument holds no water. And anyway, most embryos don’t twin – how many identical twins do you know?

For a far more detailed refutation of the twinning argument, check out this excellent article by Alexander Pruss of Baylor University (hat tip MandM). Matt’s response is here, but he does not appear to really counter what Pruss says, just disputes some minor points.

I have discussed other issues around abortion in these posts.

Is an embryo a person?

This question is at the heart of the abortion debate. A pro-choicer may admit that genetically and scientifically an embryo is a human, but they will then argue that they do not yet have “personhood” so it is ok to kill them.

Before addressing the question of whether or not a human embryo is a person, let’s look at the question itself.

Where on earth did the idea come from that you can be “human” but not a “person”? What is the difference?

For an atheist, who believes only in the physical, an embryo is genetically human, and it is clearly alive. Therefore it is a living human. A living human is a person, because only the physical is real and they are a physical person.

However the Christian, who believes that a person is both a physical body and a soul, may believe that personhood is not physical. They may be able to believe that an embryo, although scientifically human, is not a person because they do not have a soul. In my opinion this is a poor argument, as we have no idea when the soul is imparted into the body, can never prove any view on this, so must stick with the science that says life starts from conception. But it is an argument that sounds plausible.

The atheist must accept the embryo is a person. The Christian may choose to believe otherwise (although this is illogical in my opinion).

So why are so many pro-lifers Christian, and so many pro-choicers atheists? Why are people expressing a pro-life position so often accused of being religious fanatics?

It’s really quite crazy when you think about it.

The pro-choice position is not based on atheistic logic. It is more often based on emotion – people have had an abortion or know someone who had an abortion, want to believe that that was ok, and come up with philosophical or religious reasons to justify their position. This process may be subconscious.

If you look into it hard enough, you may quickly conclude that abortion is wrong. Check out the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League, Libertarians for Life, and this excellent article on “Why should Atheists be Pro-Life”. But many people are unwilling to look at the issue with cold, hard logic, and become blinded by emotion.

So, in your opinion, can a human ever not be a “person”? If so, when does the embryo become a “person”? And WHY do you believe this? Logically, not emotionally.

Family First calling for more bureaucracy

DB has agreed to take down a billboard that, according to Family First, “glorified pornography”. Great, there is some stuff your kids just don’t need to read.

But Family First is going further than that, from their email:

Family First has called for a committee to be established to pre-approve billboards. Mr McCroskie said the committee should include specialists to advocate for the protection of children and families from offensive billboards. “Families are sick to death of being confronted with offensive material as they drive along motorways and through city streets.”

Do we really need another bit of bureaucracy to go through before you can advertise? It would be just a nuisance for the vast majority of advertisers who were not intending to have anything offensive on their billboards anyway.

And it would do no good (and possibly even do harm), because in the long run it could end up being stacked by government-appointed left-liberals, who would have a completely different idea to Family First about what is “offensive”. We could see stuff currently considered obscene approved due to it “becoming accepted in popular culture”, but Christian content repressed to not offend Muslims or some such nonsense. Who knows? Why risk it?

If the “Advertising Standards Authority is a ‘toothless wonder'” as Mr McCoskrie says, wouldn’t any government appointed authority just end up the same?

The billboard is being taken down. The current law therefore seems to be working. Let’s be happy about that, not make up more laws.

Or have I missed something?

Vatican hosting conference on Evolution

Ok, I’m not officially here, but I couldn’t let this one pass! I had gained the impression that Pope Benedict was more conservative than his predecessor (who stated evolution was “more than just a theory”), but this throws that idea out the window.

I would have no problem with the Vatican hosting a conference that was genuinely “A critical appraisal” of Darwinism, looking at it from both perspectives and discussing the science behind it and how it relates to Christianity. But that is not how they are approaching the issue. From the Vatican News Service:

Saverio Forastiero:

“…biological evolution – which is assumed and discussed as a fact beyond all reasonable doubt…”

Fr. Tanzella-Nitti:

“…from the perspective of Christian theology, biological evolution and creation are by no means mutually exclusive.”

Now the idea that evolution and creation are not mutually exclusive is a valid opinion to hold. But when such views are being stated by people organising the conference, who should be approaching the issue from an unbiased perspective and allowing both sides of the story to be debated, it shows the tone of the conference.

The topic of the conference:

Fr. Leclerc explained that the congress will be divided into nine sessions, focusing on “the essential facts upon which the theory of evolution rests, facts associated with palaeontology and molecular biology; … the scientific study of the mechanisms of evolution, … and what science has to say about the origin of human beings”. Attention will also be given to “the great anthropological questions concerning evolution, … and the rational implications of the theory for the epistemological and metaphysical fields and for the philosophy of nature”. Finally, he said, “there will be two theological sessions to study evolution from the point of view of Christian faith, on the basis of a correct exegesis of the biblical texts that mention the creation, and of the reception of the theory of evolution by the Church”.

In other words, they will be considering evolution to be an established fact, learning all about those “essential facts” underpinning it, then finally looking at how this can be fitted into Christianity through “correctly” understanding the scriptures.

There is only one way that discussion is designed to go…

Evolution is not an established fact – there are many dissenters, including atheists who disagree on purely scientific grounds. But just like global warming, if you speak up you will generally be ignored by the media (or ridiculed if you are lucky to be noticed), and could lose your job. Furthermore in the opinion of many Christians it IS mutually exclusive with Christianity – Evolution requires death before the Fall (undermining the Cross). It also requires God to use millions of years of death and suffering to create a world he then pronounces to be “very good”, and requires passages clearly written as literal (even in the Ten Commandments) to be interpreted as figurative to squeeze the theory into the text somehow.

By accepting evolution as undeniable fact before the conference even starts, discussion is stifled, and the results are predetermined – just like in a Green Party discussion on climate change…

Anti-Christian discrimination in Britain

“Foster mother struck off for letting Muslim girl convert to Christianity”

If you thought religious discrimination was getting bad in Britain, it’s just got a whole lot worse:

A foster mother has been struck off the register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity…. Although she is a practising Anglican, she said she had put no pressure on the girl who was baptised last year at the age of 16. She said social workers had also raised no objections to her own attendance at church.

But officials insist she failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have tried to stop the baptism.

Last April, they ruled that the girl, now 17, should stay away from church for six months. …

Mike Judge, a spokesman for [the Christian Institute], said: ‘All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. ‘That surely must be a core human right in any free society.

‘I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain.

So the local government officials have:
– Forbidden a Christian from attending church.
– Punished a woman for allowing someone to change their religion (how on earth do you stop a 16 year old from changing their religion anyway?).

That is government suppression of freedom of religion, as practiced under communism and Islamic law. It has no place in either a Christian or a secular country.

Prepare for an influx of (still more) British migrants, fleeing Islam. Hopefully we can resist the same sick policies here.

You could be dead tonight

On Tuesday night a car crashed outside our house. I was the first on the scene.

The driver had crashed a virtually brand new BMW convertible, doing at least 100kmh, into a concrete powerpole, snapping the powerpole and putting the lines into the hedge (cutting power to a very wide area). The car was a completely crumpled mess, even the wheels were shattered.

But when I arrived the driver was standing by the roadside flagging me down. She had only suffered a nasty cut to the head. The fact that she walked away is a miracle, the last two crashes on this stretch have been fatalities.

The car went sideways into the pole, hitting it just behind the drivers door. One foot further and the driver would have been dead instantly. Incidentally, despite it being such a snazzy car the airbags didn’t even go off – you can’t rely on safety mechanisms.

Remember, this earthly life is fleeting. One little slip (not necessarily by you), and you’re dead. The fact that you can even read this today is a blessing – don’t take it lightly.

If you were to die tonight, where would you go? Are you prepared to find out?

All you ever wanted to know about Christianity
Seven reasons you should not become a Christian (and one reason you should)

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