Monday, May 12, 2008

If contraception is murder... masturbation mass murder?

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My problem with those arguing for the Catholic Church's archaic stance on contraception is that they're trying to use economics to prop up their arguments in much the same way creationists grossly misinterpret geology and biology to convince the gullible. Armchair economists (or proud non-economists) use the science the same way a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support instead of illumination.

They “study” the issue with a conclusion firmly in mind and shoehorn the facts to fit, making sure to concoct excuses every time something doesn't quite sound right. You hear them claiming that a bigger population leads to bigger productivity without anything to show for it – the countries with the largest populations are also the poorest. You hear them blaming everything – from the greed of capitalists to laziness to lack of faith – except their stance against contraception.

It's intellectual dishonesty to claim that the Church's stand against contraception isn't relevant or that contraceptive use is rising without citing any evidence. Remember: making stuff up may be allowed in your religion, but not in civilized society.

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The order to “go forth and multiply” was supposedly given by God to Noah AFTER HE KILLED EVERYTHING ON EARTH. Of course they needed to reproduce, they were starting from scratch.* The idea that more children is good is based on the conditions of a pre-agricultural society that still needed a lot of people to hunt and gather and, eventually, tame the land. Having more children is good only before the advent of modern medicine, when infant mortality was high and you needed a bigger litter to ensure a good number of them survive to adulthood.

Given limited resources it's plain stupidity to argue that a large population is good, especially since raising a kid to function properly in today's society requires more than making sure the kid grows up strong enough to till the land. The times have changed but the Church is desperately trying not to in order to maintain that veneer of infallibility, parroted by its defenders in the media like Antonio Montalvan II, who misses a lot of points, the most important being: you can believe whatever the hell you want, just don't get in the way of those who don't.

The problem isn't the middle class cafeteria catholics who can afford and will use contraception regardless what their priest (who has no experience in these matters) says. It's the really poor who barely have enough money left over to buy a pack of condoms who would benefit from free ones from the Department of Health. These couples, who may not even be Catholic, should have the option to have sex without worrying about having a baby they can't afford.** But the Church lobby prevents this, citing doctrine that they claim is “timeless.”

But that's just it. It can't be timeless if it's constantly being proven wrong. Something timeless would still be relevant today, the Church's stand on contraception isn't just archaic, it's just plain wrong from an economic perspective.

Of course that's beside the point. The doctrine against contraception wasn't formulated in order to increase economic productivity. It is based on a silly assumption that sex should always be more than just for pleasure.

And while people like Montalvan can choose to believe that, the rest of us who value life here on earth will continue to think otherwise and call him and his ilk for their intellectual dishonesty. Being "pro-life" should include caring for the quality of life, not just quantity.

* Of course this raises a lot of questions about inbreeding (and answers some, too), but that's another story.
** And if God really wanted them to get pregnant, would a piece of latex really stop him? He's supposed to be omnipotent.


Francis Ocoma said...

(I realize that your post is directed at some public figure who seems to be be uninformed in basic economics, but I have no interest in most public figures, and I need something to distract me from my tedious tasks in the office. Sorry po!)

1) The Church does not teach that contraception is murder. Maybe you're talking about abortion, which is a different birth-control method altogether, and which really does involve killing a human being. At any rate, destroying gametes != destroying human life.

2) The Church has no problems with the idea of limiting how many children one wants to have. You're just not allowed to exercise immoral methods to do it. I would need a full-length blog-post to talk about the immorality of contraception, but it doesn't seem necessary here since you only talk about economics and why o why the big bad superstitious Church wants all of us to have a dozen babies each, which just ain't true.

Anyway, I've always maintained that proper education concerning reproduction and its economic effects is the key to convincing people not to reproduce too much. There is absolutely no *necessity* to use contraceptives at all. Still, if you're gonna have sex despite what your brain and your conscience tells you, then condom-usage is far from your worst spiritual problem. In which case: sin safely!

Francis Ocoma said...

Speaking of superstition and population growth, Slashdot recently posted news that we've already passed the 6,666,666,666 population count.

Clearly, this shows that population growth is the work of the devil! :P

Chas Diamond said...

Masturbation is mass murder but at least its the fun kind where no one gets hurt.

Over at wankerparty we are turning wanking into cash - the world's first Wank for PEACE takes place on May 31st.

You can shut up the religious types for good by using your 'sinful' capacity to raise cash for PEACE.

missingpoints said...

Francis: Gah! It should've read "If abortion is murder..." Anyway, my response later, I'm running late.

Francis Ocoma said...

Sir, I don't think "If abortion is masturbation mass murder" would make any sense. :-P

missingpoints said...

It's a quote from Playboy from the 70s.

Anyway, my point is that economic arguments shouldn't be used to defend a higher population as a consequence of not allowing artificial contraception. It's plain wrong and contorting facts and logic (like Montalvan does) in order to score points with the faithful is intellectually dishonest.

Just like creationists in the US who misappropriate science (intelligent design theory daw) to get their silly views taught in schools, the population apologists try to argue that a higher population is irrelevant to give their side some credence.

Jose Jean Paolo said...

Francis... you said "proper education", may I ask by whose standards?

You also said "The Church does not teach that contraception is murder",I have come across people of the church who actually do say it is (and I am not talking about just parishioners here.

Lastly, "immorality of contraception"? I personally think that even God would think this is presuming too much. I agree with the post that the church is too set in its ways of keeping with tradition. I think it needs to adapt. One "should" maintain the spirit of why a tradition was created but the method of implementation should be able to keep up with what is relevant.

Francis Ocoma said...


When I say "the Church", I mean the Magisterium of the Church: its teaching body. You may not agree that the Magisterium is infallible (because I know you hate "absolutes"), let's not even go there. What I'm saying is that the Magisterium is the official religious authority of the Church, and what it says is that contraception is immoral but is NOT murder.

Now, you talk about "adapting" and about "keeping only the spirit of the tradition". Well, not everything in Catholicism is about strict Divine Law. Catholicism also includes customs, policies, and opinions (theological, moral, etc.) that are NOT considered "infallible". These can change. In fact, there is a great amount of diversity amongst the most orthodox of Catholics, and we all know how Vatican II reformed some traditions in the spirit of being in harmony with the modern world. And the reforms keep on coming.

Yet the Church is not just a malleable group of people with opinions and customs. It was founded by a man who claimed to be God, and who taught some very specific and concrete doctrines. You may think that these doctrines are wrong, but do not forget that they concern the very nature of God and man, morality, life and death, and life after physical death. To nonchalantly dismiss the Church as clinging to supposedly "presumptuous" and "irrelevant" tradition is a gross underestimation of what exactly it is "clinging" to. The magnitude of it all makes the casual suggestion of "It needs to adapt" a bit ridiculous. If it needs to adapt its doctrines, then it's a terrible sham and a horrible lie and it needs to stop existing. The only reason I'm Catholic at all is because I believe in the truth and permanence of its doctrines; there is no value in it otherwise.

Note that I'm not trying to defend the Church's positions here, just wanted to say some missing points. ;-)

missingpoints said...

Jean: Ironically, I tend to agree with Francis despite us having diametrically opposite views on religion/reality. What he's saying (and he's arguing from a pretty knowledgeable position; he's done his homework) is that this is what the Catholic Church believes in; some of it is "negotiable," some of it isn't. Adapting to current times isn't really a good idea since it weakens the position of the Church as having access to divine truths.

Personally I don't approve of cafeteria catholicism. Either you believe it all, choose another religion, or reject all of them altogether. Creating your own, I think, misses the point.

Jose Jean Paolo said...

Francis: Ok, The church (Magisterium) preaches that contraception is immoral and not murder, I stand corrected though not placated. I don't think this is one of those revealed truths, thus it being "immoral" is vulnerable enough I think to be questioned. The church has not given me enough evidence to align with that belief without being some what disgruntled.

What makes you think that I nonchalantly dismissed anything, or that I was ever casual about any of this. I take faith very seriously, how do you find that ridiculous?

I never said that the doctrines were, in themselves, wrong cause I believe they aren't. What I am pointing out is that the doctrines can be interpreted in many different ways, which leads me to believe that, even the priests (being human) can misinterpret it themselves. I guess what I am trying to say is that things can and are often lost in translation. The lesson taught may not necessarily be the lesson learned. Thus, I think it is the church's duty to teach people how to "decode" the doctrine but should leave it to God to help those people understand "his" wishes. Everybody has the right to find God in there own way, as God has the "right" to reveal himself to people in any which way that he chooses.

I believe in the truth and permanence of its doctrines too, the spirit of what those doctrines wish to convey, that is. I shall admit I used the term "tradition" lightly but I maintain what i said in my previous post. The essence of the doctrines are, I believe, more important than what is "written" down in black and white. Adapting does not take anything away from it. I struggle to understand how you would think it would.Do you think God would pass anything down to us that was that "weak"?

Sir: "Adapting to current times isn't really a good idea since it weakens the position of the Church as having access to divine truths" How so? I don't think it is about the ability of the church to have access but more of what God is willing to reveal.

I don't know if I qualify as what you refer to as a cafeteria catholic, I was born and raised as a Christian catholic though I'll be the first to admit that I am far from being religious, but I can proudly say that I am faithful. The sentiments I post here is how I believe I serve... I don't think I'm creating a new religion only that I am endeavoring to find my way to God in the best way I "know" how. I will choose to challenge faith to open myself to learning rather than follow it blindly.

Sorry to all, I know I have strayed from the original topic. If I have been blasphemous or I apologize it was unintentional, know that I seek to support furthering God's work in whatever religion you may have.

missingpoints said...


Re: adapting to current times. If god was supposed to have told church leaders the "truth," then they don't need to backtrack. It's silly to say we were wrong since it's tantamount to saying god was wrong, too.

A cafeteria catholic is one who chooses which parts of the religion to believe in. People who claim to be catholic yet use contraception or those who attend mass but don't use priests when confessing their sins.

I advocate strict adherence to religion because it shows right-thinking people how ridiculous it really is.

mr. bate said...

masturbation rules!!