The key dysfunction of the RH Bill ‘debate’: leaving out the ‘being’ from the ‘human’ equation

A lot of the “debate” around the issue of Reproductive Health in the Philippines revolves around the notion of the “human” life at stake during various stages of pregnancy from the time of conception. According to Fr Joaquin Bernas in his now famous Inquirer.net column, “The Constitution commands that the life of the unborn be protected ‘from conception.’ For me this means that sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation.” In short, both Philippine Law and the Roman Catholic faith see human life as such — human — at the time a fertilsied egg is formed. For its part, Wikipedia, defines the event human fertilisation as…

[…] the union of a human egg and sperm, usually occurring in the ampulla of the uterine tube. The result of this union is the production of a new individual of the human species (homo sapiens), complete with a unique set of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that genetically specify a human organism, the sperm and the egg each providing 23, for a total of 46 chromosomes.

It is surprising how three iconic sources of information relied upon for debates such as this — a Catholic Priest, the Philippine Constitution, and Wikipedia — all share a clinical definition of what human life is at its earliest stages. And across these sources of information…

“Unborn”;
“Conception”; and,
“Fertilisation”

…are common words used. Therefore, by transitivity, all three of these wells of human “wisdom” define the coming to existence of a “human individual” as the emergence of an “organism” possessing the complete set of 23 chromosome pairs that contain within them the code of the human genome.

The human organism. Isn't she adorable?

So there we have it. 46 chromosomes in an “organism” composed of one cell gestating within an adult human female is that so-called “human life” around which the most controversial aspect of the “debate” over Philippine Reproductive Health revolves.

So, for me, the critical question to ask is this:

Is a single cell that holds 46 chromosomes within which the human genome is coded, a human being?

Here’s an even more loaded derivative of that question:

The fertilised egg cell may, perhaps, be human. But is it a being?

Amazingly, Old Reliable has this revealing definition of what a “being” is…

[…] it refers to a discrete life form that has properties of mind (i.e. experience and character, cf. sentience), which are deemed to constitute a more complex and evolved state than simple organisms (i.e. that have only “life functions”).

The key words at work here are properties of mind. Thus, we get to the rather amusing thing to note; that whilst the concept of “human” can be described in cold clinical terms (as in the ironic way that the Church and Philippine Constitution do), the concept of a “being” seems to fall outside of the little square within which this big quintessentially Filipino “debate” rages on.

The irony here (which I suppose I should spell out, this being a blog frequented by Filipinos), is how the Church and its “devout” minions who framed the 1987 Constituion in the midst of huffing and puffing about the “sanctity” of “human life” seem to have left out an essential ingredient of the essence of what sets us apart from the rest of “God’s creations,” — that of our being sentient, self-aware, BEINGS.

True to form, the Philippine National “Debate” is now exhibiting the latest specimen of its extensive portfolio of textbook cases that showcase the Filipino’s renowned penchant for losing the plot. Indeed, the only thing that had so far come out of the Reproductive Health Bill “debate” in the Philippines is a grindingly clinical definition of what it means to be “human.” Unfortunately, what it means to be a human being is a notion that continues to elude the stunted mind of the Filipino.

print

59 Comments on “The key dysfunction of the RH Bill ‘debate’: leaving out the ‘being’ from the ‘human’ equation”

  1. Well, the Church views life as being conceptualized in the heat of a guy’s loins, or a girl’s, when a condom could render moot all your definitializing. Or we could take up the matter of discipline or acceptance of responsibility, terms not found in the Filipino Dictionary purchased by many hereabouts. Yet, priests are allowed to pretend they have no heated loins, and are precluded from bringing precious life to the planet . . . by doctrine. I rather think this doctrine thing is a little loosey goosey and situationally defined. The poor are commanded to birth, the priests not. I don’t get it.

    1. I think that is what is at stake as far as these priests are concerned — that a population who once sought their guidance on matters of reproduction and health will, in the event that Reproductive Health becomes democratised, have an alternative to “services” the Catholic Church once monopolised.

    2. GISING ! MATAGAL NA PANAHON NA ANG PANLOLOKO NG SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO SA MGA TAO. dapat i-ABOLISH na natin yang simbahang Katoliko. THEY WANT TO BE CALLLED CHRISTIANS PERO ANG DAMING KAUTUSAN NG DIYOS ANG NILALABAG. Ginagamit lang ng mga pari ang Diyos para magkamal ng maraming pera at dinadala sa Roma. Puro panloloko lang ang ginagawa ng mga pari sa mga tao. At ngayon gusto nang makialam sa ating gobyerno.
      Ang sabi ng panginoon, Mt 10:8 Mangagpagaling kayo ng mga may sakit, mangagpabangon kayo ng mga patay, mangaglinis kayo ng mga ketong, mangagpalabas kayo ng mga demonio: tinanggap ninyong walang bayad, ay ibigay ninyong walang bayad. Pero anong ginawa nila? KASAL-P1,000 (depende sa dami ng ninong); BINYAG-P1,000 (depende sa dami ng ninong); LIBING-P1,000; PAMISA SA PATAY-P500 (di naman nabubuhay);
      Ginagamit lang ng mga pari na KAMPON NG DEMONYO) ang Diyos. Niloloko ang mga tao. Maliban sa pera, NILABAG PA NILA ANG IKALAWANG KAUTUSAN, gumagawa pa ng kung sinong Santo para sambahin ng mga tao. pati si Maria sinasamba na.
      Ang sabi ng panginoon: Deut.5:7-9 Huwag kang magkakaroon ng ibang Dios sa harap ko. Huwag kang gagawa para sa iyo ng larawang inanyuan na kawangis ng anomang anyong nasa itaas sa langit, o ng nasa ibaba sa lupa, o ng nasa tubig sa ilalim ng lupa: Huwag mong yuyukuran sila o paglilingkuran man sila: sapagka’t akong Panginoon mong Dios ay mapanibughuing Dios, na aking dinadalaw ang kasamaan ng mga magulang sa mga anak, sa ikatlo at sa ikaapat na salin ng nangapopoot sa akin.
      Kelan ba kayo magigising ? MAGBASA KAYO NG BIBLIA marami kayong matutuklasan na mga kautusan ng Diyos na harapang nilalabag ng mismong simbahang katoliko……

      1. ikaw… sa pannanilata mo parang diyos ka.. bakit di mo tingnan ang sarili mo.. may naitulong ka ba sa iyong simbahan o kaya naman puro kananlng paninira o pamimintas ng iba.. simulan mo sa iyong sarili…. you are just looking on the one side of the whole reality.. reading bibile is not enough to prove something in one’s religion … bakit di mo ba nakikita sa sarili mo na ikaw mismo ay lumlabag sa KAUTUSAN NG DIYOS?…nabasa mo na ba ng mabuti ang kautusan ng Diyos..thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor….. magisipisp ka bago ka sumatsat… ingat na lang….
        i will pray for you..

      2. magandang gabi saiyo kiko
        ikaw… sa pannanilata mo parang diyos ka.. bakit di mo tingnan ang sarili mo.. may naitulong ka ba sa iyong simbahan o kaya naman puro kananlng paninira o pamimintas ng iba.. simulan mo sa iyong sarili…. you are just looking on the one side of the whole reality.. reading bibile is not enough to prove something in one’s religion … bakit di mo ba nakikita sa sarili mo na ikaw mismo ay lumlabag sa KAUTUSAN NG DIYOS?…nabasa mo na ba ng mabuti ang kautusan ng Diyos..thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor….. magisipisp ka bago ka sumatsat… ingat na lang….
        i will pray for you..

      3. magandang gabi saiyo kiko

        ikaw… sa pannanilata mo parang diyos ka.. bakit di mo tingnan ang sarili mo.. may naitulong ka ba sa iyong simbahan o kaya naman puro kananlng paninira o pamimintas ng iba.. simulan mo sa iyong sarili…. you are just looking on the one side of the whole reality.. reading bibile is not enough to prove something in one’s religion … bakit di mo ba nakikita sa sarili mo na ikaw mismo ay lumlabag sa KAUTUSAN NG DIYOS?…nabasa mo na ba ng mabuti ang kautusan ng Diyos..thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor….. magisipisp ka bago ka sumatsat… ingat na lang….
        i will pray for you..

  2. So, does it mean does if it is human, it is just human?

    They will not have the same right us the human being?

    Or you’re just telling us the difference?

  3. Benigno:

    The Catholic Church treats human life and human being as one and the same.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church 2258: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”

    1. baby,

      B0 doesnt believe in that. he believes that sentience is necessary.

      in fact, by his standard, many infants fail his test. also, some mentally handicapped people.

    2. Actually, while they may use the terms “human life” and “human being” interchangeably, informally speaking, due to the looseness of speech, the precise sense intended may be gleaned from the context of the message they are used in.

      Strictly speaking though, the human male’s spermatazoa (“sperm”) and the human female’s oocyte (“egg”) already have ‘human life’ in them. When they unite together to form a zygote, a threshold is passed. This zygote not only has ‘human life’ but IS a distinct ‘human being’. The sperm and egg are just parts and not the whole being. But just as my heart, kidneys, liver, etc. have human life in them, they do not, in themselves, constitute the whole human being.

      1. Indeed. Reframing the question along the lines you started, AsiaWest: For that matter, what is a human body without a head, or a brain? Is it a human being? If so, why are life support systems turned off when one is “brain dead”?

        Thus it can be argued that the fertilised human egg cell — the zygote — is essentially a human life form that does not possess a brain, much less brain function. As such a human zygote (and later embryo) remains “brain dead” until evidence of brain activity starts to appear.

      2. Not yet…

        The order of human discovery is not the same as the order of reality. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” The existence of certain realities in nature is not dependent on or limited by the discriminatory powers of our human senses. When reasoning from cause-to-effect does not yield us sufficient results, we can also resort to inference from effect-to-cause (the same way we can tell that there is, say, electricity even if we cannot directly see it–i.e. we see its effects, hence we infer the “cause”, i.e. that there is electricity.)

        Unlike a healthy living human zygote, an acorn or a dead rock left to pursue their natural course of development will never ever grow a brain. It is the very existence of this natural faculty or potential, already programmed from its inception, and given ample time to fully develop, that distinguishes a zygote from the rest. To some, these examples still show merely a difference in degree, but to others, myself including, it constitutes a radical difference–i.e. a difference in kind.

        To illustrate, a child of 3 does not enjoy the same level of development, and thus, the same level or productivity, skill, and also privileges, duties & responsibilities as a fully-grown adult. But, we all know that they should be granted the same basic right to life as a fully matured adult.

        Now, if we gradually start cutting-off certain parts of this child, from the limbs down to the internal organs, does this lack of necessary parts diminish the child’s right to live? Is one’s right to live contingent upon one’s ability to function fully as a human being?

        Now instead of a 3 year old child, let us move the hands of the clock backwards through time and try to see how those distinct body parts are all reduced to a point in which they become indistinguishable. At what point is this “entity” not a human being? Both philosophy, science, and certain religions have identified a demarcation point. Some call it “conception”, while others “fertilization”, and so on. But when a zygote is formed, unless its natural course of development is impeded or impaired, it already possess in potency all the faculties of a human being, and that includes “sentience”–something that a rock or an acorn can never realize.

        Hitler, who euthanized the handicapped (mentally or otherwise,) and Josef Mengele did not succeed in shifting this demarcation point to justify their programme or agenda. It neither makes any difference, even if it were paved with good intentions, such as, raising the bar or the quality of life or of living conditions for a certain society.

      3. @AsiaWest: those are good points, though I sense a kind of an apples-to-oranges thing going on with the comparison between an embryo and the hypothetical dismembering of a fully formed human or criminal treatment of the handicapped.

        The plight of a zygote or an embryo, as far as I understand, is always taken in the context of the health and will of the adult female within which it is gestating. Thus its fate before it is born is closely intertwined with that of its mother.

        In contrast an infant, child, or a handicapped adult is within reach of the powers of the state to physically protect without directly compromising anybody else’s health and well-being.

      4. “In contrast an infant, child, or a handicapped adult is within reach of the powers of the state to physically protect without directly compromising anybody else’s health and well-being”

        the fact that the state is limited in what it can do is in fact the reason for caution.

        if one day, it were possible to grow a baby outside a mother’s womb, then it would be a good idea to separate the baby and mother, if the mother so wishes.

        without that possiblity, the state is required to protect both individuals — the mother and the baby.

      5. I think I know what you’re saying. That’s the difficulty with using analogies. By definition, an analogy is a comparison between two different things which are similar in certain respects which render them analogous, but, simultaneously, each possessing features that are also dissimilar by virtue of the fact that they are indeed 2 different things.

        Nonetheless, the particular feature that I’ve intended to address through my choice of examples, is the lack of the full expression of any visible physical trait or appearance we normally associate with being human. I simply wish to point out, in other words, that the apparent lack of a human organism’s ability to express said traits, whether due to lack of development (as in the case of the zygote) or by brutal amputation (in the child example,) does not diminish said organism’s claim to humanity and its attendant [basic] rights.

        The science of taxonomy classifies us humans as bipedal. But, the poverty of adhering literally & rigidly to this modern approach to classification in terms of certain features, makes cases such as persons born with 3 legs or in other cases just 1, harder to come to terms with. (though we may simply call them an aberration from the norm. But are they still human?).

        Philosophers such as Aristotle define a human being/”man” as a “rational animal“. These two definitions, modern and Aristotelian, are obliquely related–There are overlaps though not fully aligned. If an extraterrestrial creature were to suddenly appear on earth, as long as it exhibits both inherent “rational” and “animal” traits (in the Aristotelian sense), they are still going to be referred to as “man” even if they grow tentacles instead of arms. While in our modern use of the term, we don’t consider it to be human or refer to it as a “man” (perhaps not even humanoid).

        The best approach is to fortify more promising and less controversial aspects of the RH bill (such as relevance to women’s health as what concerns many) and then subject it later-on to amendments.

        The RH bill has already been subject to certain amendments and thus appears to be a moving target. While I understand that the RH bill simply wishes to be comprehensive in scope, I would pursue a less ambitious path–by strengthening its more agreeable aspects first and then by working on the others by reasonable increments.

      6. @AsiaWest, your assertion that the way forward on this is to “fortify more promising and less controversial aspects of the RH bill (such as relevance to women’s health as what concerns many) and then subject it later-on to amendments” is spot on. It highlights the immense damage that the Roman Catholic Church had done in the way it participated in the while debate around the RH Bill. If its clerics had approached it more the way, say, Fr Joaquin Bernas had in his “My Stand…” article, then all aspects that are even more relevant to the interests of the greater public would have figured as well in the discussion.

        Then again, Fr Bernas is an exquisitely-trained professional thinker, which is something that cannot be said of members of the bigger community of Filipino Catholic clerics.

        Perhaps then we too fall into the trap of focusing too much on the philosophical aspects of what it means to be human (though I continue to hold on to the concept of presence of “mind” in any one specimen as defining its individual “humanity”) to the point of taking this subset of the debate out of its proper place in the overall context that the bigger set of aspects of Reproductive Health provides.

        For me we have the Church to thank for that predisposition we now feel to quibble within the tiny square that Catholic dogma frames the issue of Reproductive Health with. Even the ant-RH camp themselves suffer from having the Church on their side.

      7. @benigno, i believe asiawest had a perfect rationale as to where being human begins and being organic compounds end.

        You, yourself, have no proof of a sentient self-aware mind.
        What is sentience? It is the ability to percieve, to feel or to be conscious. By this definition, even Makahiya plants, which retreats when enough force is applied to them are sentient. They clearly sense a stimuli and act accordingly by closing upon itself. Even archaic bacteria which have primitive light sensing components are sentient in that single cell.

        If you are still not persuaded, check back to biology 101. Single-celled microbes are at the least alive, if not “sentient.

        I am thinking that you do not understand cellular life that is why you cannot accept that the human zygote is already very much alive.

        A mind does not nesessitate an actual brain. A nucleus is the “brain” of the cell as it dictates what action it pursues. And then you could go further to DNA, which dictates the nucleus. Then to amino acids which make it up. Then the atoms themselves. Then quarks and neutrinos, cmon.

    3. @Baby, that’s a deference to a relgious belief; i.e. that “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.” Some Filipinos may believe in that. Others don’t. But they are all stakeholders in the state nonetheless.

      1. Grateful for the polite revert to my post, Benigno. It is often the case that one’s religious belief is enough for some to exclude one’s contribution to topics such as this.

    4. Sana magbasa ka rin ng Biblia para maliwanagan
      ang iyong isipan. Ang simbahang katoliko ay
      tagapagturo ng puro mga kasinungalingan…
      at ang mga pari ay mga kampon ng mga
      demonyo…GINAGAMIT NILA ANG DIYOS PARA
      MAGLIKUM NG LIMPAK-LIMPAK NA PERA.
      BASAHIN NYO ITO, ITO ANG MAGPAPATUNAY SA
      MGA KADEMONYOHAN NG MGA PARI…..at
      maliban dito kung ipagpapatuloy mo ang
      pagbabasa, makikita mo pa ang ibang kasinungalingan ng
      mga pari.
      A.) 1 TIMOTHY 4 : 1-2
      B.) ISAIAH 44 : 9 – 11
      C.) DEUTERONOMY 5 : 7 – 9
      D.) 2 CORINTHIANS 11 : 14
      E.) AWIT 19 :7
      F.) JEREMIAH 10 : 2 – 5
      G.) 1 JOHN 3 : 4

  4. When did the Church formulated, that life begins during fertilization? Did they conduct experiments, of people having sexual intercourse?
    Church dogmas can be formulated easily, by Bishops and Priest…as in the Middle Ages….when they formulated that the World was Flat, and the Sun revolves around the Earth…they even burned people who contradict their beliefs…it’s happening just now….the Tyrany of Religions.

  5. Yes however how would someone like the fcking old school Congr. Garcia and other close minded politicians, comprehend on this argument?

  6. HT: “When did the Church formulated, that life begins during fertilization? Did they conduct experiments, of people having sexual intercourse?”

    Trosp: (“Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).

    “Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”
    [Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

    One does not have to take a poison just to know it’s poisonous. It can be scientifically proven just like how life begins with fertilization.)

    HT: “Church dogmas can be formulated easily, by Bishops and Priest…as in the Middle Ages….when they formulated that the World was Flat”

    Trosp: (According to Wiki:

    “Historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers point out that “there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth’s] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference”.

    James Hannam wrote:

    The myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth is flat appears to date from the 17th century as part of the campaign by Protestants against Catholic teaching. But it gained currency in the 19th century, thanks to inaccurate histories such as John William Draper’s History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). Atheists and agnostics championed the conflict thesis for their own purpose …”)

    HT: “and the Sun revolves around the Earth…they even burned people who contradict their beliefs…”

    Trosp: (This era was very unfortunate one. The era were the Catholic Church was very powerful. Burning was a capital punishment as the lethal injection that we have today (because electrocution is so inhuman. Electrocution was thought to be more humane than guillotine.). This practice of punishment was not a monopoly of Catholic religion.

    According to Wiki:

    “Burning was used as a means of execution in many ancient societies. According to ancient reports, Roman authorities executed many of the early Christian martyrs by burning, sometimes by means of the tunica molesta, a flammable tunic.”)

    HT: “it’s happening just now….”

    Trosp: (Where?)

    HT: “….the Tyrany of Religions.”

    Trosp: (And what is that?)

    1. Life is still a mystery…we have some theories about it…but, not detailed proof that what you are stating are true…they are just formulated dogmas and beliefs.
      The Roman Catholic Church has a lot of errors…it conducted: crusades; inquisitions; burning of heretics; etc…The Knight Templars who were Catholic monks and warriors, at the same time; were perpetrators of murders during the conquest of Jerusalem. They killed: Moslems, Jews and Christians, alike; who were residents of Jerusalem.
      The belief that life begins at fertilization is just a belief…the questions of birth and death, itself, is still a question…answered only by religious dogmas; that can be easily formulated.
      We still have a lot to learn…religion, that is blocking our way to learn more, should give way to open minds…

      1. The doctrine on conception pre-dates the Apostolic Church and as such was not plucked out of thin air (or “formulated” as you put it) by the Bishops and priests. BTW, the doctrine is backed by current scientific evidence as Trosp and AsiaWest have submitted. If your anti-Catholic impulse does not allow you to accept the religious position, you can, at the very least, rely on the science and in the manner that many atheists have done.
        The other matters you have raised are straw arguments to flog the Catholic Church with and have no bearing whatsoever to the issues which Benigno has raised. The errors of the Catholic Church with regards to latter Crusades and the Inquisition are events of the past (which the Church has acknowledged and apologized for) and as such, they are not completely reducible to the framework of the Church’s moral and social ethics towards the dignity of the human being.

  7. Baby,

    “the Church’s moral and social ethics towards the dignity of the human being”

    There is spiritual dignity and there is physical dignity, and when millions live in filth and disease, without food, because the Church feels a piece of rubber is a sacriledge, then I fear the Church is concerned only with spiritual dignity. Now indeed, millions also live richly, and the Church can (and does) argue that it is up to Man to better generate and distribute its wealth, and I would argue that the Church is one of the key elements of the framework of Man that is failing to do just that.

    1. @JoeAmerica:

      “…concerned only with spiritual dignity.”? I am being kind when I say that I find that part of your comment obtuse. Even those unfamiliar with the principles of the Church’s social doctrine would have heard of its Catholic medical missions and relief services which cater to the temporal needs of the marginalised (from pre-born to grave) regardless of creed, race, age, gender, etc from diocesan to parish level, as well as through various lay and religious Catholic agencies and institutions.

      As to your second paragraph, are you implying that the Church is wealthy? If you are, then my reply would be…it’s an urban legend.

      1. Baby, thanks for being kind, considering the alternative. Let me try to connect my dots, which are indeed illusive to minds trapped by that to which they are comitted. Poverty is an economic condition occasioned by too many needs and not enough money. NOt enough jobs. Now you can try to increase the wealth, but on an island nation with too many mountains and not enough fields and machines, it is extraordinarily difficult to generate enough jobs for people to feed themselves. Youu can take the pressure off if you reduce the need a bit, the number of crying mouths, the mobs demanding jobs that simply aren’t there. And when you consider it sinful to do that, well, you are a part of the problem, not the solution.

      2. @Joe: The problem is with those who do not have the knowledge or courage to engage in “dissent through choice” because education is withheld or they feel overwhelmed by guilt.

        Education is not a pre-requisite in order to discern right from wrong and the good from the bad. A well-formed conscience is. That is the reason why we have Bishops, priests, catechists and apologists who explain why we believe what we believe i.e. the basic teachings of the Church concerning human life, marriage and sexuality.

        @Joe: Now, theoretically there may be room to support a billion people in the Philippines if the mechanics of farming are raised to modern standards…

        The Philippines has immense natural resources and can cultivate land to feed its people. However, subsistence agriculture rests on a government with a political will to implement agragrian reform, as well as give appropriate public land for cultivation.

        @Joe: …and the nation becomes the call center heart of the world hiring 500 million reps and trade becomes super-Japanlike, goods in, goods out, and shave a little profit off the top…

        Therein lies the problem. The Philippines was an agricultural country but immensely diversified into other industries which are subject to global boom and bust cycles as well as competition.

        @Joe:.. I go for “Option B” which is to slow the population explosion to allow our governors and business people some latitude to be less than perfect as they strive to make some advances and haul a lot of people out of misery.

        Therein lies another problem i.e. mediocre politicians and economists, whose only socio-eco-political recourse is population control. .

        @Joe:..The other issues you raised relating to the Catholic Church:

        I will begin by paraphrasing Archbishop Fulton Sheen (substituting “understand” for “hate” to fit in with the context of our discussion) “Not many people really understand the Catholic Church for what it is, most understand it for what they think it is.”.

        Foremost, the Catholic Church is not indifferent to the serious problem of population growth. Catholic teaching on marriage also stresses the obligation incumbent upon married couples to practice responsible parenthood i.e. wanting children while taking into account all the facts making up their situation, health, finances, housing and spiritual values according to the moral order established by God of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter. Where the Church differs is in the prescribed method for family planning which is natural rather than by way of artificial contraceptives and devices. To understand the Church’s position is to understand its teachings on human life, marriage and sexuality together with the meaning of sacrifice…all of which Church teachings are moral absolutes and not relativism i.e. where there is no absolute right and wrong because everybody has an opinion.

        The doctrines of the Catholic Church will not change because the Church does not have the authority to do so. In order to fully understand that, one must delve into where the Church derives its authority from, deposits of faith, so on and so forth. Understandably, I cannot pursue further apologetics within the limits of a comment box but, I hope it sufficiently answers your query. Terse as it is.

    2. @JoeAmerica:
      I understand perfectly well what you are saying and appreciate that you steered clear of straw arguments as some tend to do because of their animosity towards the Church and as such, cannot see the woods for the trees.
      The Church most definitely agrees with you on the effects of poverty and is not detached from the realities of poverty as it works amongst the poorest of the poor. Obviously, together with common ground are differences of approach towards resolution for the issues involved which you and I can express our respective opinions accordingly, hopefully with due courtesy. There are many issues raised by protagonists of the RH Bill and my fundamental concern rests on the absence of a conscience clause as while it purports to have one, it is negated by the duty to refer. But, all the same, I will comment on the matters which you have raised.
      The Church’s pastoral position in the RH debate is borne by the Bishops and priests’ duty, by charism of their office, to make known and explain fully to its members the teachings of the Catholic Church and what is incurred when those teachings are repudiated. Thereafter, the burden to heed or dissent is on the member. And, since a dissenting Catholic will dismiss what the Church teaches anyway and will subscribe to artificial contraception (even abortion), in what way does the Catholic Church pose a problem? Feel free to correct me but, it seems to be that it is what the Church can or should say about God’s law which is held wrong.
      As to the poor and hungry: they existed even when the population was less than what it is now, Joe. Overpopulation = poverty is a Malthusian concept that has been debunked many times over because alleviating poverty rests primarily on a genuine consideration of many of its causes. It takes very little to establish that one causal link to poverty in the Philippines is the result of many years of economic despotism which was conducted by and confined to particular individuals and/or groups in the country and was exclusively geared towards personal gain, etc. Additionally, there is also the government’s lack of political will to deal with corruption together with its lack of imagination towards sound economic policies and mechanisms which would draw long-term investments in the country. There are other government and economic factors but, those should do for now lest I type forever.
      As to high unemployment: all economies are affected by global boom and bust cycles. So, the phenomenon is not exclusive to the Philippines. Perhaps, other countries fare better because their governments have had the foresight to set up a safety net for the eventuality of large unemployed labour force.

      1. Baby,
        And I appreciate that you offer up your perspectives with a great deal of thought behind them. Let me respond, for I am finding the discussion helpful in framing a richer perspective myself.

        Baby: “since a dissenting Catholic will dismiss what the Church teaches anyway and will subscribe to artificial contraception (even abortion), in what way does the Catholic Church pose a problem?”

        Joe: The problem is with those who do not have the knowledge or courage to engage in “dissent through choice” because education is withheld or they feel overwhelmed by guilt.

        Baby: “Overpopulation = poverty is a Malthusian concept that has been debunked many times over”

        Joe: This is a point that always stops me . . . for a moment. The US is a case in point. Plenty of wealth and way too many poor people. That is a fault of government and has nothing to do with church doctrine or population growth, and I’m sure the Malthusian debunkers use that as case study number 1. But the Philippines is different. Now, theoretically there may be room to support a billion people in the Philippines if the mechanics of farming are raised to modern standards and the nation becomes the call center heart of the world hiring 500 million reps and trade becomes super-Japanlike, goods in, goods out, and shave a little profit off the top. But given the infinitesimal chance of this occurring, I go for “Option B” which is to slow the population explosion to allow our governors and business people some latitude to be less than perfect as they strive to make some advances and haul a lot of people out of misery.

        Baby: “one causal link to poverty in the Philippines is the result of many years of economic despotism which was conducted by and confined to particular individuals and/or groups in the country and was exclusively geared towards personal gain, etc”

        Joe: Ouch, you get me in a soft spot here, too, for I see the relentless Egos about striving for personal gain and sacrificing their fellow Filipinos whilst doing so. But I also think that, given the hole of “need” that the economic despots have dug, you don’t make much progress by continuing to dig the hole whilst complaining about how deep it is. When a family makes P5,000 a month and tries to support their 8 kids on that pittance – food, education, shelter, health – it digs the hole of “need” deeper. Indeed, having the 8 kids is an exercise of considerable Ego, too. Having 2 kids, they can do better, and so can the nation.

        Baby: “Perhaps, other countries fare better because their governments have had the foresight to set up a safety net for the eventuality of large unemployed labour force.”

        Joe: The Philippine problem is so vast, the hole so deep, it is beyond simple safety net solutions. It is structural. Millions of workers overseas, many of whom will never return. Millions of residents living in hunger, sickness and filth. The chaos of climate change bearing down like a train heading for a busted trestle. The possibility of food riots so tangible you can feel them in your bones every time a shortage scare arises.

        My point is the Catholic Church should be helping to solve these very human problems, not aggravate them. Doctrine is words, not reality. Words can be changed, given the new perspectives of time and fresh insights (supplied by God if you pray rightly). Reality won’t change if we refuse BECAUSE OF HISTORICAL PRECEDENT to see the problem clearly, or aren’t willing to make the sacrifices needed to change.
        Abortion is horrid. Ban it. But a condom and education about responsible parenthood are hardly threats to God’s Good Grace. Unless the Philippines better balances economic power and population growth, it will become a living hell within a few decades. That would be a mighty offense to God.

        The solution is neither economic alone nor population alone. The Catholic Church ought to be actively working both aspects of the solution, just like government. And, given its power and prestige in the Philippines, it ought to accept responsibility for national failures both economic and social. It ought not to be working proactively to tie the hands of government because in the 1500’s or whenever the doctrine on contraception was devised there was plenty of land and countries had to aggressively re-populate to offset the high death rate. This is 2011. God gave us the brains with which to adapt; that was not Satan’s doing. The Catholic Church seems out of touch, to me, with either the problem or the practicalities of solution.

        If the Church remains obstinate and out of touch with more and more people, the Church becomes more and more irrelevant. I am arguing for MORE relevancy for the Catholic Church, not less.

    3. @Joe: I am not familiar with the format of Benigno’s commenting facility which means, my reply to your recent comment would be in-between our comment boxes and not appear to follow a flow albeit I am sure you’ll come across it.

      1. Got it, thanks.

        B: “The doctrines of the Catholic Church will not change because the Church does not have the authority to do so”

        I fear this projects forward to an increasing irrelevancy, for the real pressures on humankind are changing.

        B: “My point is the Catholic Church should be helping to solve these very human problems, not aggravate them”

        Then the Church must consider its efforts failed, for the lack of result, for the suffering that abounds in the Philippines, for the lawbreaking, the lack of sacrifice, the lack of courtesy. It cannot simply say it is government’s fault, or Satan’s. The humans who inhabit the Philippines are no different than those that live elsewhere, but the social systems are different, and the Church is the single most pronounced non-governmental social player.

        You may find it hard to believe, but I enjoy Catholic services. The Church is a very spiritual place for me. I find peace there, a centering of my soul. But when the leaders of the Church insert themselves directly into governmental processes, they are leaving the world of teaching and spiritual counsel and entering Caesar’s realm. They deserve to get knocked about for the failures that are partly of their own making. Please refer me to an utterance from the Philippine Catholic Church that says “we have done a poor job here” and I will shut my yap.

      2. Joe, once again my reply to you floats as your comment does not have a reply box below it to proceed from.

        @Joe: I fear this projects forward to an increasing irrelevancy, for the real pressures on humankind are changing… My point is the Catholic Church should be helping to solve these very human problems, not aggravate them…

        You cannot apportion blame on the Church for the plight of the poor simply because the Church would not change its doctrines over a “piece of rubber”. You know what that sounds like from where I am sitting? A traitor’s bargain…in the same manner when Caiaphas said: “You must betray Jesus. It would be expedient that one man should die for the people.”. The only difference is the substitution of a “piece of rubber” for the 30 pieces of silver. Do bear in mind that we are talking of a Church who did not change its doctrine on marriage even at the expense of its Ecclesial authority over England.

        I am surprised that you went further than Malthus by finding the Church/religion culpable for poverty without due note that poverty existed even before and during Jesus’ time . Common to protagonists in support of the very narrow interpretation of the Malthusian concept is the oversight that Malthus argued for people to be virtuous. He did not propose artificial birth control but, advocated abstinence. His argument on fecundity and charity are parallel to what the Catholic Church teaches on responsible parenthood and social justice. If you can find a copy of Malthus argument on population growth, you can compare his argument with the Catholic Church’s teaching on social justice. Here is a reference to the latter:
        http://www.smdm-fb.org/ministries/JustFaith/justice/Cathechism-SocialDoctrine.html

        @Joe: But when the leaders of the Church insert themselves directly into governmental processes, they are leaving the world of teaching and spiritual counsel and entering Caesar’s realm.

        The Bishops and priests, as well as being members of the Catholic Church, are citizens of the country and are free to exercise their rights and assert opinions on any proposed legislation. You might want to refer to Sec 5 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Philippines which includes: “… No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”.
        You are also contradicting your earlier submission. Initially you stated that the Church should assist the government, only to negate their participation simply because their position on artificial birth control does not suit you. The Church’s position has been both pastoral and as a voice in the public square. The crucial note to weigh upon is whether the Church is being listened to on the basis of their social action work amongst the poor. You’d find the obstinacy on the other side of the fence where one can attribute dissent on moral relativism and cafeteria Catholics.

      3. Baby,

        Why do I want to call you “Babs”?

        Poverty has long existed, indeed, but that does not mean we should accept it. And poverty on a scale of the Philippines in the modern era of 2011 is outrageous. It cannot be reduced easily. You and I will always disagree on the point of education and availability of birth control measures for those, today, who have access to neither.

        I don’t mind the Catholic Church advocating political positions as long as I am not expected to bow in supplication because they presume some special channel to God. My point is, the Catholic Church is the second most powerful institution in the Philippines behind the government itself. It MUST accept responsibility for the condition of the Philippines, one of the most morally bent and poverty-stricken nations in the world.

        Beyond that, I appreciate your constancy and considerate argumentative style. Maybe we can take this up in another thread. I’m getting lost in this one.

      4. @Joe: Yes, we have duly flogged the issues and can agree to disagree. Grateful for the courteous and civilised exchange. And…nooooooooo. Not Baaaabs!!!

        Off to browse the rest of the articles as GRP offers the best insight without glossing over issues concerning the Philippines. It helps when one has been away from the country for so many years. Well done Benigno & Co.!!!

  8. “The Doctrine of Conception pre-dates the Apostolic Church”…what doctrine is that? From the cavemen?
    The Assyrian Book of creation of humans; tells s story that we were Genetically Engineered by the Extra Terrestials: Annunakis. The Book was written on Clay Tablets…it is 5,000 years older than the Hebrew Bible…it was translated by the Israeli Scholar: Zecharia Sitchim…

    1. @Hyden Toro:

      The problem I have with folks who indicate knee-jerk anti-Catholic bashing at first instance is whether I should treat comments such as yours as an honest query or an attempt to be clever. The former would indicate that you obviously have no idea that the Catholic Church does not refer to any other bible and tradition except its own and, I would suggest further reading. The latter falls under the category commonly referred to as intellectual pretence and does not require further comment lest I fail in the exercise of Christian charity.

      1. Hey, Dudette…I’m only telling you the truth. If your Dogma is your whole Truth…it is your business. The Roman Catholic Bible was derived from the Jewish Torah…there are many books removed from the present Bible of the Catholic. The Apocryphas are not there: Gospel of Mary Magdalene; Gospel of Judas Iscariot; Revelation by St. Peter; Gospel of St. Tecla…If your basis of your faith is an incomplete Bible; removed by the order of Emperor Constantine of Rome…then, you remain as ignorant as you are…

      2. @ H Toro

        The Old Testament is also referred to as Torah so what is the issue?

        And then, what is your problem with the gospel of St. Tecla? Perhaps, if you can be more specific, we can have a very interesting discussion. on that gospel

        “Apocrypha” – what’s that?

        Well, it seems, you’re wiser than the Catholics in the bible issue the way you’re commenting.

        Let’s have it on.

  9. @Trosp
    I’m not wiser than anybody else…I’m just more well informed…
    Christian belief came out from the Jewish belief. St. Tecla was a companion of St. Paul, the Apostle. She had also a Gospel. Apocrypha, were the books/gospels, not included in the Christian Bible…on the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Spain was a province of the Roman Empire. So, the Roman Catholic religion founded by Emperor Constantine was enforced to us…Judas Iscariot had also a Gospel of his own. So, was the Apostle Mary Magdalene, who was said to be the love/wife of Jesus Christ…Read : Holy Grail, Holy Blood…

    1. After Jesus Christ cruxifixion; it was said, he survived the cruxifixion. He settled in Southern France, with Mary Magdalene as his wife. They have children, who became lines of France Kings…
      The Cathars of Southern France, beleived very much on this…they have a Church with Mary Magadalene, prominent on the altar. However, the Cathars were subjected to Genocide, on the order of a Pope…most of them perished on the burnig stakes…

    2. After Jesus Christ cruxifixion; it was said, he survived the cruxifixion. He settled in Southern France, with Mary Magdalene as his wife. They have children, who became lines of France Kings…
      The Cathars of Southern France, beleived very much on this…they have a Church with Mary Magadalene, prominent on the altar. However, the Cathars were subjected to Genocide, on the order of a Pope…most of them perished on the burnig stakes…

      1. @Hyden Toro:

        HT: “Christian belief came out from the Jewish belief.”

        Trosp: According to Wiki:

        “Although Christianity and Judaism share historical roots, these two religions diverged in the first centuries. Judaism primarily places emphasis on correct actions (or orthopraxy), focusing primarily on how to respond to the Mosaic Covenant God made with the Israelites, as recorded in the Torah and Talmud.[1] Christianity places emphasis on correct belief (or orthodoxy), focusing on response to the New Covenant that God made through Jesus, with some denominations believing that salvation comes not by any human action, but by faith alone (sola fide) and God’s action. In other words, Jews participate in collective rituals that express their nation’s covenant with God. Christians obtain individual salvation through repenting of sin and receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

        Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah.

        HT: “there are many books removed from the present Bible of the Catholic. The Apocryphas are not there: Gospel of Mary Magdalene; Gospel of Judas Iscariot; Revelation by St. Peter; Gospel of St. Tecla…If your basis of your faith is an incomplete Bible;”

        Trosp: According to gotquestions.org :

        “ The gospel of Mary was not written by Mary Magdalene or any other Mary of the Bible. The Gnostic teachings found in the gospel of Mary date it to the late 2nd century A.D. at the earliest. As a result, there is no validity to its teachings. Similar to the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Philip, and the gospel of Judas, the gospel of Mary is a Gnostic forgery, using the name of a biblical character in an attempt to give validity to heretical teachings. The only value in studying the gospel of Mary is in learning what heresies existed in the early centuries of the Christian church.”

        HT: “She had also a Gospel. Apocrypha, were the books/gospels, not included in the Christian Bible…on the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine.”

        Trosp: Again, According to gotquestions.org:

        “Concerning manuscripts that were burned at the order of Constantine, there is really no mention of such a thing actually happening at the order of Constantine or at the Council of Nicea. The Arian party’s document claiming Christ to be a created being, was abandoned by them because of the strong resistance to it and was torn to shreds in the sight of everyone present at the council. Constantine, and the Council of Nicea, for that matter, had virtually nothing to do with the forming of the canon. It was not even discussed at Nicea. The council that formed an undisputed decision on the canon took place at Carthage in 397, sixty years after Constantine’s death. However, long before Constantine, 21 books were acknowledged by all Christians (the 4 Gospels, Acts, 13 Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation). There were 10 disputed books (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Ps-Barnabas, Hermas, Didache, Gospel of Hebrews) and several that most all considered heretical—Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthaias, Acts of Andrew, John, etc.”

        I can only surmise you’re reading too many conspiracy theories about Christianity or maybe you’re a da Vinci code fan.

        BTW, can you direct me to the gospel of St. Tecla (Thecla)? Can you also direct us from the sources of your claims?

  10. If you talk about the “potential” to be human then if cloning technology advances to the stage wherein one can grow a clone of a whole person just from strands of your DNA then just shedding skin flakes will be tantamount to the murder of millions of potential human beings.

    And what about cryogenics? Don’t we have to moral obligation to freeze every cadaver for the “potential” to resuscitate them in the future?

    I just find all this talk about “potential” this-and-that quite ludicrous. The more medical technology progresses, the bigger the scope of “potential” becomes. Where do we draw the line? Better to just judge an entity’s state based on its current vital signs. No heartbeat? no ECG brainwaves? then by all possible medical definitions – IT’S NOT ALIVE (YET/ANYMORE)!

    1. Indeed, this is a good point you make. It highlights more the whole idea of what it means to be a human being. What is it about, say, our mother that we love. Is it her DNA sequence that is the object of our feelings toward her? Or is it her mind — the one that enabled her to teach us much of the things we needed to know to grow up to be decent people?

    2. you are missing something. “potential” is only one part of it.

      the other is that the fertilized embryo will naturally develop into a human being on its own, without an outside “being”, forcing it.

      cloning requires the effort of the human person doing the cloning. it requires a decision to do it.

      same with cryogenics… a dead person will be dead until some external being exerts effort to undo it.

      1. point taken, but let me clarify :

        1) compare a comatose patient that still has all the vital signs but is totally dependent on life-support machines to live

        2) … and a zygote with no vital signs yet is also totally dependent on the mother’s uterus as a biological life-support system.

        Now, why do we allow pulling the plug on the comatose patient which has vital signs of its own but not allow the same for the zygote which does not even have any discernible vital signs yet? It’s inconsistent logic!

        1. Dr Noh

          You make a lot of sense! I would have said the same things if I was a doctor myself. 😉

      2. the difference should be clear too. for the comatose patient, the decision should be based on whether its possible to come back from it (it being, the ability to live autonomously.

        the baby is programmed to, in finite time with perfect certainty, live autonomously.

      3. @ilda, sadly I’m not a doctor by professional, though I am a fan of James Bond 🙂

        @GabbyD, oh you’re a shrewd one 🙂 I concede the point, with one caveat: if the basis of decision is the probability of living autonomously, would that exclude a fetus that was determined by doctors to be, if born, be burdened with a severe deformity that will make it unable to live on its own?

        Again, the issue seems to veer to the question of how disabled or incomplete does a person have to be before he loses the right to life?

    3. I was reflecting on feelings about miscarriage. They are generally expressions of pain for the mother, having lost a child. They are not for the child, per se.

      Why is that, I wonder. It is the opposite of when an abortion occurs. I suppose one termination is an act of God, the other an act of Man, or, in the eyes of the Church, Satan. So it is by a Man’s act that the child is defined as a whole, relevant child.

      Ergo . . . (you tell me) . . .

      1. “I was reflecting on feelings about miscarriage. They are generally expressions of pain for the mother, having lost a child. They are not for the child, per se”

        They are not for child per se?

        My wife had three miscarriages. Both of us had identical feelings. They were for the lost of a child. Not just an unborn creature.

      2. Yes, Trosp, I’m sorry. I know the parents feel for the child, deeply. I’m referring to those outside the immediate family. And maybe I simply overlay my own feelings, and am completely wrong. Every child is precious, and losing one must be the most difficult pain imaginable.

        I’m sorry that my cold intellectual ramblings were so intrusive.

  11. YANG MGA TAGASIMBAHAN NA YAN!!!!!!! SALITA NG SALITA EH WALA NMNG MAGWA KUNDI HUMINGI NG PERA SA TAO GUS2 NILANG NATURAL EH D NA NGA MAPIGILAN ANG PAGDAMI NG TAO BUTI SANA KUNG SA BAWAT PAMILYA MY IBI2GAY CLANG 1SANG KILONG BIGAS!!!!!!!!! EH CLA PA NGA ANG HUMIHINGI EH MAHRAP N NGA ANG TAO HINGI PA CLA NG HINGI EH PARA LNG NMN UN SA KANILA

  12. As a result, cheap hosts become the best companions for
    your websites. Prior to touching on the benefits of
    reseller hosting, it is good to exactly understand what it entails.
    Not only will you end up with problems at a later stage,
    you might also find it quite challenging to be able to modify the website
    either to accommodate some changes that might
    have been requested by your users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.