Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pope vs. Canada

In a condemnation of Canadian Catholics, the Pope said the following:

"In the name of tolerance your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of freedom of choice it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children," the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario. Such laws, he said, are the result of "the exclusion of God from the public sphere."

Setting aside completely the issues of gay marriage and abortion, does the Pope have the causality correct? I think we have several different options:

(1) The exclusion of God from the public square CAUSED liberal abortion and marriage laws.

(2) Liberal abortion and marriage laws CAUSED the exclusion of God from the public square.

(3) The exclusion of God from the public square is correlated with the rise of such laws.

(4) The exclusion of God from the public square and such laws are both due to another factor or group of factors, but are directly causally related.

(5) The exclusion of God from the public square and such laws are only coincidentally related; it is completely historically contingent that they happen to be occurring simultaneously.

What does everyone think? After the discussion gets rolling I'll probably throw in with (4).

(Ironic that one of the most nightmarish scenarios of a reversal of such laws was written by a Canadian?)


At 9:03 AM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Either (1) or (4) in my view. I'd probably go with (1), but I would try not to be a simplistic as it is (necessarily for the sake of disguishing it from the other options) written here.

At 11:16 PM, Blogger der Panzerkardinal said...

Does 4 mean to say that some other factor caused the exclusion of God from the public sphere, which in turn caused the gay marriage and abortion laws?

Wouldn't it then assume option 1? What distingishes the two?

I say 4 (which includes 1), unless I'm missing the meaning of 4.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify--I probably should have worded (4) better.

(1) means that "the exclusion of God from the public square," whatever our provisional definition of that turns out to be, was the principal factor in the laws: either a necessary and sufficient condition itself, or by far the most relevant along with other minor factors.

(4) means either that some other factor or group of factors caused both the exclusion and the laws; OR that the exclusion, along with a number of other nearly as relevant factors, caused the laws; OR that the exclusion was caused by something else with which it then combined to precipitate the laws.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

I think the subtle differences between 1 and 4 will make for interesting discussion.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Hans-Georg Gadamer said...

I'm in for (1) since I think "God Consciousness" has really rocked public policy. I don't think the policy makers needed to be conscious of the removal of God, but there was certainly a suppression of God which leads to absolute chaos. I would discuss the formation of Hilberian mathematics in the same sense:
"The removal of Jesus from Calculus curriculums CAUSED the formation of Hilbertian mathematics and the logical positivist attitude included therein."

At 2:39 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I think I'm for 4, but might be convinced of 1. This issue is tough because we can't compare "the inclusion of God" in culture and "abortion" on the same plane. "The inclusion of God" is much more both a culture-creator and culture-result than abortion, which is mostly a culture-result that then helps go on creating culture. Other culture-forces involved in determining the legality of abortion are also involved in determining "the inclusion of God", but God's inclusion has historically been a culture force interacting with the abortion issue and not vice versa (i.e. few if any say, "Abortion should be legal, and God is against abortion, so society should ignore God.")

The same goes for gay marriage.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Well, what does the Pope mean? Do we agree with him? Is he insightfully critiquing the enlightenment? Or is it just a shrill Falwell-esque cry?

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Hans-Georg Gadamer said...

Charles - I think the Pope means(1), but since we don't have the full address we have to trust the reporter in the truthfulness of his connection of result with loss of God. If that is okay, then I think the Pope means that the loss of God's direct influence on the moral consciences of Catholic politians has resulted in abomination and death.

As to whether the Pope is right, I would say yes, but lately I have found myself agreeing with whatever the Pope says. Still, dare I bring in Ivan and say "Everything is permitted!" without God as the central undergirding to decision making.

Is it a helpful critique? It's from the most learned Pope in 1,000 years, of course it's helpful! Enlightenment: 0. God consciousness: +1

At 10:14 AM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Well, I think that “the inclusion of God” in society means certain things about the culture of that society. So, I disagree with Hans that it is about “God's direct influence on the moral consciences of Catholic politicians” so much as it is a cultural shift away from understanding institutions, rituals, conventions, and norms as mediators and harbingers of some divine reality (not always the Triune God) and toward understanding them as functional, therapeutic, or obsolete (I am borrowing as heavily as possible from Philip Rieff here).

Now this isn’t a simple Katherine Harris argument; it is that institutions, rituals, conventions, and norms aren’t self-justifying or self-sustaining, but are reflective of some higher belief. That is what, in my view, lots of people call “the inclusion of God” in society.

So I think the Pope was making a cultural argument and I think he was arguing that is is directly causal and I think he was correct.


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