Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Ep 21 – Done to Death show

Posted by Ethan Clow on August 14, 2009

Ep 21 – Done to death Episode

This week in history

3114 BC – The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used by several pre-Colombian Mesoamerican civilizations, notably the Mayans, begins. 2012 Doomsday calendar

2001 – US President George W. Bush announces his support for federal funding of limited research on embryonic stem cells.

1173 – Construction of the Tower of Pisa begins, and it takes two centuries to complete.

1977 – In Yonkers, New York, 24-year-old postal employee David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) is arrested for a series of killings in the New York City area over the period of one year.

1945 –Nagasaki is devastated when an atomic bomb, “Fat Man”, is dropped. 39,000 people are killed outright

Topics

Prayed to death

Dale Neumann (and wife) found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide in the death of their 11yr daughter who dies from untreated diabetes.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

“If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God,” he testified. “I am not believing what he said he would do.”

Madeline die as a test of faith

The jury deliberated about 15 hours over two days before convicting Neumann.

Carl Brent Worthington, sentenced to 60 days in jail and ordered to provide medical care for his other children. acquitting the couple of felony manslaughter charges in the March 2008 death of their 15-month-old daughter, Ava, from pneumonia and a related blood infection that could easily have been cured with antibiotics.

Carl belongs to the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, which avoids doctors in favor of spiritual healing. Larry Lewman, a former medical examiner in the state, alleges that during a ten-year period twenty-five children perished due to the lack of medical intervention.

Like many states, Oregon has laws protecting from prosecution parents who practice faith healing. The laws in Oregon at the time were especially liberal in the protections granted to parents; granting immunity from manslaughter charges to parents whose children perished due to an alleged reliance on faith healing over traditional medicine

In January 1999, a bill was introduced in the Oregon Legislature to repeal the “religious beliefs” defence to charges of manslaughter, homicide, and child abuse. After much debate, a modified version of the law was subsequently passed later that year. Oregon State Law House Bill 2494 Section 163.555 2b retains the “religious beliefs” defence: “In a prosecution for failing to provide necessary and proper medical attention, it is a defence that the medical attention was provided by treatment by prayer through spiritual means alone by adherents of a bona fide religious denomination that relies exclusively on this form of treatment in lieu of medical attention.” Thirty states have child abuse religious exemptions. These are Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/fhkiler2.htm

Abortion

It will be assumed, that those who are our listeners, that there is no soul. As such, any definition of life will not rest upon this concept.

This discussion is intended to explore the apparent logical contradiction between those who are approve of abortion on the one hand and decry capital punishment on the other. The apparent contradiction present being – is the preservation of life paramount; abortion points to no and capital punishment points to yes. As such, other issues around this debate (notable a woman’s right to body, father rights and democratic will) will be ignored….for now.

For the sake of this talk (and as rational thinkers) we acknowledge the non-existence of a ‘soul’ and as such it will not be mentioned. Because ‘souls’ and ‘religion’ are inherently irrational, they can be used to prove any point. IE. One has no right to life until baptized.

However, it must be acknowledged that at some point during gestation that the bundle of cells attains ‘personhood’ and that because of the contention of this issue, the contradiction above is possible even in a scientific debate.

Personhood

What is personhood?

Having rejected the spiritual definition (ie soul) what (and when) does a potential person achieve personhood?

This is complicated by the fact, if one uses consciousness, the human brain finished development outside the womb

Does this mean “post-birth” abortions are acceptable?

o Singer concluded that infanticide would be permissible until the 3rd month after birth, because, at that point, self-awareness has still not been acquired (Singer, P. (1976). Practical ethics, chap. 6. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)

What about people of ‘diminished’ capacity later in life? (the elderly, injured, disabled or diseased)

Potentiality

Denying existence to Einstein?

Although a fetus may not have rights, the person it would (have) become does.

We can acknowledge we have legal/moral obligations to “potential” humans in the environmental debate. Immigrants often will sacrifice their own well being in the hopes that their potential progeny will prosper.

Morality

Abortion for medical reasons

Abortion for psychological reason

Abortion for Socio-economic reasons

A form of discrimination

Abortion for gender selection

Cultural insensitivity

Abortion as birth control – Overpopulation vs. alternative to condoms/the pill

Capital Punishment

Is it ever right/justified to take a life for the sake of the community/justice?

Is it EVER appropriate to kill the unjust?

What about Hitler?

What about a clear and unambiguous case of MASS homicide?

Morally speaking, if you allow it once, then your debate is not moral but practical

Does killing a killer bring justice?

Does killing a killer save lives?

What part of punishment is retribution and what part restitution? Does (should) it accomplish both or either or neither?

Wrongful conviction

Utility – ie killing one innocent to prevent

o Estimates 39 “probable” innocents executed in US since 1976 out of 1,171 (3.4%)

o http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfulconvictions/issues/deathpenalty/executinginnocent

o http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FactSheet.pdf

Rights

Do the convicted have the same rights as the ‘innocent’ or are those (to some degree) relinquished by perpetrating a crime?

Economics

Is it cheaper to kill than to confine?

If restitution (for the loss of value to the community of the murdered), is killing the best way to achieve this? Maybe work-camps?

Quote

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.
Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four
corollary: whatever is impossible, however desirable must be eliminated for the possible, however improbable they may seem. (Don)

“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.”
Terry Pratchett The Daily Mail (2008-06-21)

“Suicide was against the law. Johnny had wondered why. It meant that if you missed, or the gas ran out, or the rope broke, you could get locked up in prison to show you that life was really very jolly and thoroughly worth living.”
Terry Pratchett ” Johnny and the Dead (1993)

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
Richard Dawkins, ‘Unweaving The Rainbow’

Song

Depeche Mode- Blasphemous Rumours

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muziKxIyh5g

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