Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Intrinsic Evil of Nuclear Weapons

By: Stephen Hand, original HERE...

I am often shocked at how many will defend the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan on the grounds that it saved the lives of so many American soldiers towards the end of the Second World War. The argument, which I heard again not long ago, is as neat and simple as it is horrific.

But surely using the same logic we could prevent all of our losses in every war by simply preemptively nuking any nation that is deemed an enemy presenting a clear and immanent danger.

The elderly, the sick, women, children...kill them win and cut losses.

But does human life mean so little that the end here justifies the means? What then becomes of Just War teaching? It is replaced by the easy logic of nihilism. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote,

"When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries."

Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the late head of the Holy Office(1) under Pius XII and John XXIII, likewise in 1947:

"The extent of the damage done to national assets by aerial warfare, and the dreadful weapons that have been introduced of late, is so great that it leaves both vanquished and victor the poorer for years after. Innocent people, too, are liable to great injury from the weapons in current use: hatred is on that account excited above measure; extremely harsh reprisals are provoked; wars result which flaunt every provision of the jus gentium, and are marked by a savagery greater than ever. And what of the period immediately after a war? Does not it also provide an obvious pointer to the enormous and irreparable damage which war, the breeding place of hate and hurt, must do to the morals and manners of nations? These considerations, and many others which might be adduced besides, show that modern wars can never fulfil those conditions which (as we stated earlier on in this essay) govern - theoretically - a just and lawful war. Moreover, no conceivable cause could ever be sufficient justification for the evils, the slaughter, the destruction, the moral and religious upheavals which war today entails".

God is love. Creation belongs to Him, not us. There are always too many "reasons" and pretexts to think the unthinkable, commit genocide, kill the innocent... Evidently there is a something of a Stalin and Hitler in all of us that must be exorcised.

If we have any humanity left inside of us, we must work now with all of our hearts and wills to eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth, just as we want an end to all death camps and other genocidal ends--- otherwise those nations which refuse become as evil as the weapons themselves.

The world is not safer since 1945 but immeasurably more dangerous.

(1) Today called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What of non-Traditional Marriage?

By: Dr. J. P. Hubert

Over the past several years marked interest has grown in what must for the sake of intellectual honesty be termed non-traditional “marriage.” By this is usually meant civil unions or arrangements in which same-sex couples formalize their relationship and in so doing derive the benefits usually reserved for married heterosexual couples. To date, little organized interest has been expressed for other kinds of non-traditional “marriages” such as polygamous ones or those involving animals and humans (bestiality). In any case it has now become necessary to flesh-out the philosophical implications of marriage including the nature of what it means to be a human person and what is meant by “tradition.”

As mathematician/physicist and philosopher Wolfgang Smith has taught, “traditional” when used as an adjective before anything connotes the transcendent not simply ancient or of historical significance. To say that marriage for example is traditionally a life-long commitment between one man and one woman is to say in part that it is based in the transcendent “other” which theists understand as God (being personified from a philosophical perspective); that it “embodies an element of revelation.” According to Smith, a “doctrine is traditional by virtue of the fact that it partakes somewhat of eternity.” In this sense traditional marriage is not only a horizontal but a vertical relationship (metaphysical reality) with God as one of the “partners.”

To develop this concept a bit further, traditional marriage (TM) is a microcosm/reflection of penultimate being that is, non-derivative being in much the same way that man was created in the imago Dei (image of God, Gen. 1:26). Orthodox Catholics understand it as a recapitulation of the tri-unity (“3” who’s in one what) that is the Blessed Trinity—wherein the “two (male and female possessing complementarity) become one flesh” (Gen. 2: 24) in the sense of giving life to a child (the third member of the human triad/family). From the perspective of human anthropology marriage in a traditional sense can join only one man and one woman in a permanent (covenant in religious terms) or exclusive relationship if it is to retain any semblance of meaning. As such the Traditional marriage union is a metaphysical (outside of space and time) reality as well as a physical one which is unbreakable by human means. It is this facet of traditional marriage which has been expunged in large part from post-modernity by the way.

The notion that individuals of the same sex or that multiple partners (in the sense of the pleural marriages practiced by polygamists) could “marry” is to rob the term traditional marriage of any real meaning. These and other “unions” such as between humans and animals are non-traditional in the extreme. Not only do they fail to mirror in microcosm the transcendent other (GOD) as understood in Christianity, they for the most part lack complementarity (anatomically at least) as well. While pleural marriage on an anatomic basis may possess complementarity , it clearly lacks exclusivity. Traditional marriage then for Christians must contain the elements of complementarity and exclusivity. This is true because of the essence of what it means to be human and because traditional marriage has both a vertical and a horizontal dimension, one in space and time; one outside of or beyond it. Unfortunately, the Enlightenment, much of modern philosophy (particularly the Utilitarianism of J. S. Mill) including Cartesian Dualism followed on by Baconian notions of science including Darwinist philosophy (philosophical naturalism) have emptied traditional marriage of its true meaning. As a result human nature is no longer considered “fixed.” It is simply assumed that one can create their own nature and for that matter reality itself. This reduces marriage to a completely horizontal “arrangement” of our own making that can be undone at will--resembling something more akin to a business transaction.

Admittedly, the idea that marriage is a recapitulation of the Blessed Trinity is unique to Christianity as it is predicated on a unique and divinely revealed understanding of the nature of God. Both Judaism and Islam which either tacitly or explicitly reject the Blessed Trinity; have historically allowed pleural marriage between human beings, (multiple wives with one husband) usually on economic, or other utilitarian grounds including custom. Nevertheless, over time, each has moved away from the practice of polygamy. It is safe to say that no monotheistic religion has endorsed non-traditional marriage between adult human beings of the same sex or between humans and animals presumably because of the issue of lack of complementarity and the recognition that traditional marriage in order to be legitimate/genuine must contain no impediment to the natural generation of children which would ensue from a lack of complementarity. This is another way of saying that marriage arrangements must not be incompatible with the natural law. Procreation--and with it the education and rearing of children--has traditionally been seen as either the primary/only or dual reason for marriage (along with the obvious positive unitive benefit for the spouses). Clearly this is an impossibility in the natural for same-sex and human/animal “unions.” Moreover, incest (parent/child) in recorded history has universally been sanctioned in all of the “3” monotheistic religions at least in part for reasons having to do with complications arising as a direct result of copulation and procreation (genetic disorders for example among other severe psychological problems). While heterosexual incest is correctly ordered anatomically, it is clearly disordered from the perspective of lacking exclusivity (parents already have or should have a monogamous and exclusive relationship), genetic complications and behavioral problems. Since traditional morality holds that sexual intercourse is proper only within the bounds of marriage, it is apparent that incest could never be morally acceptable.

Some would argue that while same-sex human or opposite-sex human/animal “unions” are not marriage in the Traditional sense, pleural marriage between for example one man and multiple women should be afforded the designation “traditional marriage.” There is a certain logic to this contention in that complementarity is preserved and with it the ability to procreate. The difficulty comes in that there is no exclusivity of the partners or of their offspring for the biological parents, thus not as organically related families in these arrangements. Such “unions” fail to recapitulate the divine pattern in microcosm and are inherently horizontal in nature; important criteria by which marriage is ultimately to be judged traditional where Christians and most monotheists are concerned. Atheists and agnostics or other nominal or fallen-away theists who embrace traditional marriage presumably do so in a more limited sense, one in which the historical, economic and conventional aspects of heterosexual marriage (in the horizontal sense only) are desired.

There is of course a certain collective wisdom of the ages which supports so-called traditional marriage. It has not been by chance that this kind of marriage has existed as the most frequent marital arrangement in virtually all cultures and time periods. TM has many obvious advantages and arguably the fewest negatives. Pleural marriage is associated with many hardships particularly where it is illegal. Even where polygamy is legal the natural tendency toward conjugal fidelity/exclusivity which is a natural part of human anthropology is difficult if not impossible to suppress and can lead to disastrous problems associated with jealousy of one or more of the spouses for each other. Attempting to preserve an equitable relationship with multiple marriage partners would seem to be an impossible undertaking. It is truly difficult to imagine how one could honor the biblical imperative to treat their neighbor fairly under such a circumstance.

Same-sex “marriages” are perhaps the most difficult to justify philosophically. Not only is there no complementarity of the sexes, statistically there is a high incidence of non-exclusivity of homosexual partners (particularly among men) which exceeds those of heterosexuals in which the marriage is considered a civil contract only and where they are not bound by the notion of indissolubility which comes with traditional marriage through verticality (covenant). If civil contract marriages between heterosexuals are removed from divorce statistics, overall divorce rates are much lower indicating that the problem in heterosexual marriage dissolution lies in the concept of a breakable civil contract. Therefore, in the interest of the common good it would be better to limit marriage to those who intend to form a traditional marriage rather than some other “arrangement” especially same-sex ones. Heterosexual couples considering marriage would be best served by exposure to traditional marriage and all of its obvious benefits since civil contract marriages fair so poorly over the long run.

Not to be underestimated are the potential medical complications predominately among male same-sex couples due to their incompatibility anatomically. For example since anal intercourse is usually involved in male/male same sex “unions”, the columnar lined rectal epithelial mucosa which is not suitable for intercourse (the vaginal mucosa is composed of squamous epithelium and designed for intercourse) is frequently damaged predisposing it to disease including anal warts, HIV/Aids, anal gonorrhea, fissures, fistulae and incontinence etc. Corresponding pathologies are invariably seen in the male partners of those who are frequently sodomized. This should alert us to the fact that something is inherently wrong with anal intercourse (heterosexual or homosexual) even if we had no other way of knowing it—fortunately, a careful study of human anatomy and physiology coupled with an adequate grounding in Aristotelian/Thomistic moral philosophy assures that other ways of knowing do exist.

As the reader may have deduced, from the moral perspective, traditional marriage follows the general construct that the “ought” should follow the “is” meaning that the proper moral formulation should flow from the reality of being in this case the human anthropology (including anatomical complementarity and the deep desire of human beings for exclusivity) of the partners. Only if one assumes that human nature is an accident, evolving or otherwise irrelevant would the nature of human being not be of critical consideration. According to the Aristotelian/Thomistic synthesis human nature is fixed not evolving, meaning it is unchangeable by man. As a result only traditional marriage as described herein can be judged morally licit. All other so-called “arrangements” would lack one or more necessary key elements in order to be considered marriages at all, or traditional marriages in particular--including polygamist ones which are closer to traditional marriages than are those between individuals of the same sex. Despite this reality, it is noteworthy that public (political) pressure in the West is increasingly in favor of same sex “marriage” rather than polygamous ones, a fact which given the realities of human anthropology is difficult to comprehend. While neither should be legalized in the interest of the common good, polygamist “marriages” are less deranged from the perspective of the natural law than are those of a homosexual nature.

The most commonly proffered justification for same-sex “marriage” is that each human person should have the right (a claim advanced on society; the result of a personal choice) based on Western notions of freedom, equality and autonomy to marry anyone they wish. Given the necessary elements of traditional marriage as herein defined, it is clear that same-sex “marriage” could never be considered marriage in any meaningful sense without doing damage to the English language and thousands of years of history including that which is common to all “3” monotheistic religions presently encompassing the vast majority of global inhabitants.

In helping to focus the morality involved in non-traditional marriage some critical questions might be waged as follows; to what extent should individuals be allowed freedom to act if those actions debase the common good and transgress established moral norms?

Only if no harm (direct or indirect) is done to other individuals and or the common good.

Do we as individuals have a moral responsibility to act personally in ways which are compatible with and enhancing of the common good? YES.

Does personal freedom include the ability to act in ways which while not directly or immediately harmful to others are nonetheless indirectly so and eventually very injurious to the common good? NO.

It is clearly in the common good for healthy life-long marriages between one man and one woman to be strongly encouraged if not codified in law. Moreover, it is beyond doubt in the best interest of our children to be reared in stable, two parent biological families. The sociological data strongly establish that this is the case irrespective of protestations to the contrary by those who advocate for non-traditional marriage.

Moreover, certain behaviors are not only immoral but have been made illegal as well. This is to protect individuals from injury and to insure the common good. Murder is both immoral and illegal as is rape for good reason. While homosexual activity and sexual activity with multiple sex partners is not illegal throughout the United States, it is currently illegal (in most states but this is rapidly changing) for multiple partners to marry (polygamy), for animals and humans to marry and in all but one state for same-sex partners to marry (Massachusetts). The latter reality is extremely regrettable. Since homosexual behavior and sex with multiple partners is immoral and destructive of the common good, non-traditional marriage in these circumstances should remain illegal. Massachusetts should repeal its current same-sex marriage law on the grounds that it represents poor social planning where a commitment to the common good is concerned. The wishes of some individuals especially when they are violative of the natural law should not be allowed to eclipse the interest of the common good. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has transpired in the case of US laws allowing abortion on demand and destructive embryo research.

From a traditional (scholastic) moral philosophical perspective, sex with multiple partners, between humans and animals (bestiality) and between individuals of the same sex are all morally illicit. This is true because of the nature of what it means to be human (unique and fixed human anthropology) and because of the principles of the natural law (they cannot be expunged in the same way that the 4 fundamental forces of physics cannot be denied) which includes complementarity of the sexes. The record of the last half century in the United States stands as a testament to the fact that the natural moral law cannot be revoked—it is immutable. Nothing but misery comes from denying or breaking it particularly on a massive scale e.g. at the level of nation states. Those who are familiar with the so-called perennial philosophy are well aware of this reality. Obviously, those who are steeped in Modern and post-Modern philosophy find this exceedingly difficult to accept.

Therefore, a key question remains; Are non-traditional “marriage” arrangements morally licit?

No, because; they are contrary to the common good and established moral norms including those between heterosexual couples who arrange civil contract marriages. The answer is simple but not easy given post-modern confusion with respect to what constitutes truth, reality and morality. In a pluralistic secular society such as ours, it would be impossible to make heterosexual non-traditional marriages illegal (although they should be discouraged) given the nature of current civil and human rights laws. On the basis of these, proponents of same-sex marriage have made similar appeals the results of which are in flux. From the perspective of the common good of society it would clearly be best if all marriages were “traditional” in the sense utilized herein that is, both vertical and horizontal and understood as a life-long commitment between one man and one woman. The fact that this is not possible in the developed West is a testament to the disadvantageous nature of living in a pluralistic society. This negative development which can be traced to the Enlightenment is extremely regrettable.

Finally, should non-traditional marriage be legalized?

No, it is unwise public policy to legally allow behavior which is; destructive of the common good and contrary to well established moral norms. The balance between individual desires on the part of individuals and the common good is too tipped in favor of the individual to the detriment of society.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Israel Must Be Held To Same Nuclear Scrutiny as Iran


18/05/08 "The Tennessean", oritiginal HERE... -- - First, we went after nonexistent nuclear weapons in Iraq, and now we are consumed with the possibility that Iran might develop nuclear weapons sometime in the future.

Hillary Clinton has declared that she would obliterate Iran if it ever attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon. But what nobody wants to talk about is the fact that Israel has had a secret nuclear weapons program for more than 30 years that has produced well over 200 nuclear bombs.

Ever since Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician, confirmed the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons program with his photographs of the secret underground bomb facility that were published in the London Sunday Times in 1986, the world has known that Israel has been making nuclear bombs but has pretended that they do not exist. Israel continues to publicly deny that it possesses nuclear weapons.

I talked with Vanunu in Jerusalem in 2005, and here are my notes from that interview:

"I worked from 1976 to 1985 at the Israeli secret underground nuclear weapons production facility at the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert. During my time there, I was involved in processing plutonium for 10 nuclear bombs per year. I realized that my country had already processed enough plutonium for 200 nuclear weapons. I became really afraid when we started processing lithium 6, which is only used for the hydrogen bomb.

"I felt that I had to prevent a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East, so I took 60 pictures of the underground nuclear weapons processing plant, some 75 meters under the Dimona plant. I resigned my post and left Israel in 1986. I first went to Australia and then made a connection with the Times in London. After a group of nuclear scientists verified my photos as proving Israeli nuclear weapons production, my story was published in England. A few months later, I was kidnapped by the Israelis in Rome and sent secretly by ship to Israel, where I was subjected to a closed military trial without counsel. I was sentenced to 18 years in prison. I spent 12 years in solitary confinement.

"Now I am trapped inside Israel, and I'm being threatened with more prison time for speaking to people like you. I want to leave Israel and come to America where I can live as a free human being."

(Vanunu was released from prison in April 2004 but was prohibited from leaving Israel. The Israeli government continues to keep him in Israel against his will. Criminal action is pending against him for speaking to journalists and foreigners.)

The fact of the matter is that Israel is using nuclear blackmail against the U.S. Essentially, Israel is saying that if we don't agree to use our nuclear weapons against Iran, then they will use theirs. Israel is determined to keep its monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and is using its nuclear arsenal to force the U.S. to support its demand. It's time for our politicians to refuse to be blackmailed into a policy that is detrimental to achieving our goal of a nuclear-free Middle East. Most importantly, the U.S. must resist being pushed into attacking Iran to preserve Israel's nuclear monopoly.

It is time to deal openly with Israel's nuclear weapons. We need to recognize that the epicenter of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East is Israel's secret bomb factory, 250 feet underground in the Negev desert. The U.S. must join with the international community in opening Israel's nuclear weapons program to inspection and monitoring.

The only way to secure a nuclear-free Middle East is to have every nation in the region play by the same book of rules, and this must include Israel.