Is Sin Homeopathic or Can It Be Diluted?

In “homeopathic medicine” there is the notion that a medicinal property remains in a solution, even after it has been diluted to extreme degrees. In ‘traditional medicine’ the belief is that there is an optimal concentration of medicine and that at some level of dilution (and typically not very large a dilution) the impact is lost.

So my question is rather simple: Can sin be diluted enough to be irrelevant? Or is it like pregnancy and death: one can not be “just a little bit” of either.

Why am I asking this?

Because here in the USA we have two things that are presently running headlong into each other.

1) Our FIRST amendment right to freedom of religion, AND the free practice thereof.

2) The Obama Mandate for Abortion.

The second of these comes out of the “Health Care Plan”. Traditionally, here, health care has been like automotive repair, dentistry, hamburgers, or any other commodity / service one might wish to buy. Slowly, over the course of my life, it has been changed. One ‘salami slice’ at a time, into a “Socialized Medicine Plan”. (And make no mistake about it, we have had “Socialized Medicine” for quite a while now. Just not for all…)

Medicare and Medicaid are Federal programs to provide health care services to the old and poor, respectively. Each State can add their own level, should they wish, so in California we have MediCal for poor people, while in Hawaii they have coverage for all workers and some States have more universal coverage like Romneycare.

In about 1970 it was clear that there was not quite enough money for these programs, so the Medical Industry at large instituted a kind of “forced charity”: As the government kept paying less and less, the gap between what was paid by government and actual costs was packed onto the bills of folks with private insurance, increasing their costs well above actual costs.

Then we added “child coverage” under the Clintons, and Baby Bush added drug coverage for ‘old folks’. Yet more ‘goodies’ with ever less payment.

Lately, as government mandated coverage as been stretched to cover even more folks, while fewer folks could pay the ever higher private premiums (due to that excessive cost burden), some employers started cutting back coverage or dropping it all together, while ever more private individuals just stopped buying insurance that was 1/2 insurance and 1/2 welfare tax transfer payments. Clearly this has an end game where the system breaks.

To “fix” that, we got “Obama Care” with a mandate that a US Citizen, simply by virtue of being alive, MUST buy insurance. This raises a profound legal and ethical question: Can the government mandate a private person to purchase a product? (Yes, we have the ‘precedent’ of auto-insurance. IMHO, it, too, is an illegal mandate. Yet there is “cover” for it: You can chose not to drive, so avoid the mandate, therefore it isn’t a universal mandate. Yet, one cannot chose not to be sick…) But while that is an interesting question, the one I find more interesting involves a different ethical dilemma that brings with it a very philosophical question:

Is Sin “atomic” or can it be diluted “enough” to no longer matter?

Sidebar on my Qualifications

Anyone who wants to toss rocks at my asking such questions needs to realize that I frequently ponder such things. I have a Doctorate of Divinity (That I bought for $20 only partly as a lark). It is a legal document and the issuer was found valid in court. I also got it as a kind of statement of what I believed. The Church in question holds that it is up to each of us to find our own beliefs, and what we believe to be correct Truth. It is, in a way, a statement of Profound Gnosticism. We each can have our own “Knowing”. That appealed to me greatly.

At the same time I was deeply pondering questions of God, morality, and the meaning of life. So I felt it was an appropriate recognition of that effort on my part. Also realize that I’ve got a half dozen various Bibles, including a Book Of Mormon and a Jehovah’s Witnesses version, a Gnostic Bible, a Koran, and some other religious texts. I’ve read most of each of them. Basically, I don’t come at the questions of religion and morality with any degree of “lark” at all… ( though sometimes I inject a bit of levity…) So while I’ll sometimes talk about my D.D. with levity, I treat it with some deference too. Frankly, I can give a decent sermon and I can argue some fine points of theology at some depth.

Who is The Church?

The context is that recently Obama announced that he was lifting a mandate for Catholics to be forced to pay for abortions and other birth control measures that they consider a mortal sin. BUT, it has a catch (or two).

Originally, the requirement was that ANY organization not directly the Church Proper MUST provide ‘reproductive services’ that MUST include contraception. In prior years there had been ‘religious exemptions’ for such places as Catholic Schools and Hospitals. This ‘first cut’ of Obama Care cut that back to “only the Church itself”.

This raises ANOTHER ethical dilemma in that it must ask “What is The Church?” In most theologies, it is held to be the body of the practitioners. It is not just the building, or the ministers. In fact, the very act of sacred communion is the symbolic joining of the membership into one body, one Church, a oneness with God Himself. (That is why non-Catholics or those Catholics found sinning and not yet taking absolution are forbidden to take communion, so as not to pollute the joined whole with their sin. This matters.)

So first off, we have the question of “What is the Church?”. To me, it means each and every member of the body of members that make up the Church. On the very philosophical grounds that it’s not the building, and it’s not just the preacher. This has a bit a Protestant flavor to it, too, as the Protestant schism was largely over the ability of ANYONE who feels The Word Of God being endowed with the right to preach The Word – in fact being commanded to do it by some verses – so how can a Church be “the clergy” when we are ALL supposed to be Clergy?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses take this to something of an extreme, as even their formal service is lead by someone who is ‘simply a member’ and all individuals are expected to participate in reading some verses out loud, leading discussion of them, and finding answers to ‘What does it mean?’. So “Who is the Church?” when every member MUST be a Witness to God, conduct services, and proselytize?

In the Mormon Church, ever male is expected to “go on a Mission” ( I don’t know what the females are expected to do as I’m not one, so didn’t ask). To preach and spread the Word. IIRC, they are then held to be the first level of ‘clergy’. For some folks, if poor, it may be just to the next town over. If more wealthy, it is to be a longer mission, perhaps to lands far away. Again the point: The Church IS the membership. Every One.

SO: How can you mandate that the members of the Church who, say, run the Church Hospital, or run the Church Bible Store, are NOT part of the Church, so get not “Church exemption” from Mandated Sin?

How can a Catholic Nurse at a Catholic Hospital be told SHE must violate the Papal Guidance and act against HER religious beliefs? Is SHE not “The Church” in a very real and very personal sense? Does she not take communion? Would not, then, her sin be joined with “The blood and body of Christ” at communion, and with the rest of The Body of The Church?

(No, this is not just word games nor is it petty argument. These kinds of issues are EXACTLY what religion is about, and exactly the kind of thing that makes a Religion. Yes, this really DOES matter to me, so tossing rocks at the importance or validity of the idea of Religion is not a good idea… I may not be able to demonstrate the existence of God, so claim I am “something of an agnostic” – in that I mean I can not KNOW God is real – but that does not prevent me from caring about God, or the questions that come from it, or thinking that there might well be a God, and I’m just not perfected enough yet to “Know” in my Gnostic quest… that I’m just not yet a ‘finished person’… AND I can ponder what is important to uphold for those who DO already have a “Knowing”…)

So it simply MUST be answered: “What is The Church?” and “Is it not The Membership?” and if so, how can anyone mandate that they MUST violate their beliefs via a mandated purchase? Or, for Hospitals in particular, by mandates that they must provide services they consider to be a Sin.

It is my opinion that it is not possible to have freedom to practice your religion AND be forced to do things that are against that religion. That on the face of it, separating SOME of the activities of the Church from others (schools from Mass) simply can not be done. Catholic schools, for example, have prayer in the classroom. Teachers take communion. So as a starting point, I see no way they can be mandated to do anything in conflict with their beliefs nor buy anything in conflict with their beliefs.

Can funding a sin be diluted?

So we come back to the question of Atomic Sin (in the sense that an ‘atom’ is the smallest indivisible part, in ancient Greek philosophy).

So if a Catholic teacher at a Catholic School is told to pay for medical insurance, can they be mandated to pay for medical insurance that includes “abortion coverage”?

Realize that NOT funding abortion coverage is NO attack on it being available legally in other venues. The abortion clinics will still exist. The “morning after pill” will still be in pharmacies. Good Catholic Girls who had a Bad Moment can still march in and plunk down their money for a second dose of Official Sin – and a much easier lifetime… should they so desire it. They can still go to confession and seek absolution too. What they do NOT get, is the participation in their sin of the Teacher paying as part of the Health Care Premium for those “Services of Sin”. NOR does the person doing the paying participate in that sin, even indirectly.

That is the core “issue” of the mandate. That being forced to buy such coverage causes the buyer to be a participant in the sin (even if only partially).

The Catholic Church has already said “That is too much mandated participation in Sin”.

At that point, Obama made a typical “not a concession – concession”. They said “OK, you don’t have to buy it, but the insurance companies will provide it ‘for free'”.

Well, there’s no such thing as “free”. Those insurance companies are going to be paying for that service. Money will flow to abortion clinics and ‘morning after pharmacies’. Babies will die, and fertilized eggs killed. To Catholics, and many others, that is:

a) Murder
and
b) Usurping God’s Will.

Both significant sins.

So, where did the insurance company get the money to PAY for those things? From rate payers. And WHO are those rate payers? The Church (either as the Church School or Church Hospital).

So this raises the question: Is that “enough dilution of the sin” to wash it away?

The Catholics, at least, thought about it for a few days then basically said “Nope. Money is fungible and we all know the Insurance Company will just raise rates generally enough to fund it, including on us.”

But wait, there’s more…

Is Kosher food still Kosher if it has ‘just a little pork’ in it? Can the USDA mandate that a little pork in your Kosher Hotdog is OK and force you do so label it? And buy it? And eat it?

The USDA recently has been cited as the reason for taking a kids home made lunch away and giving them a school provided lunch that met their guidelines that included “A serving of meat, grain, two vegetables or fruits,…” which raises the questions of:

What if the child is a vegetarian? Many Seventh Day Adventists are. So MUST a vegetarian child have “a serving of meat”?

And was that meat Halal? (The Muslim version of Kosher…)

What if my home is a “Fruitarian” home? (Not eating plants like carrots where the plant is killed by the picking, but only eating the fruits and grains and leaves that do not kill the plant in the picking. Hey, I’m not justifying the belief, but there ARE people who believe these things.)

Are we not allowed to be vegetarians and / or even have other deeply held beliefs about the sanctity of even vegetable life?

What about folks who don’t want to eat Dairy Products? Many Asian cultures think cheese is just rotted milk, and most Africans and Asians can be lactose intolerant. Do we not let THEM decide what is acceptable?

( I’ve even known folks who only eat ONE kind of food per meal. They eat many meals in a day, but believe that keeping things ‘one at a time’ is better for them. Kind of like some Jews who will not even drink milk with a meal that contains meat, as that violates the separation of meat / milk mandated by the Bible. Can the school mandate a Jewish kid to drink milk with their meat sandwich?)

At what point is it a ‘small enough sin’ for the government to mandate that a vegan MUST eat a little butter instead of margarine, or a fruitarian must eat a carrot?

WHO decides, if not the person doing the consuming?

So that got me thinking: IFF The Body Of The Church really is the membership, as it is held to be in Holy Communion: Is it not then a sin for any Individual to buy insurance from a company with such a policy / mandate?

Does that not open the entire PLAN to a constitutional challenge? “Your Honor, I decline to purchase on the grounds that I would be funding murder and my religion forbids that.”

Can the Sin of funding murder ever be “diluted” enough to no longer be a sin?

If a million people all chip in only one penny, to pay an assassin to murder a politician, is that a $10,000 murder? Or are none of them “Guilty of soliciting a murder” since each only paid in a penny? (And a penny isn’t even held to be legal tender any more so banks van refuse your bucket of pennies as payment…) If they are NOT guilty, then who is? And at what price DOES “murder for hire” begin? $1? $10? $100?

It seems to be that “Sin can not be diluted”.

It can be forgiven and absolved in confession, but it still existed.

Conscientious Objection

So, just to ask the NEXT question…

If

1) Sin is atomic, and can not be diluted away.

2) The Church is the collective of the individuals that make up the body of the Church.

3) I can believe on my own.

Does it not follow that I alone can find contributing to Murder to be a Sin, so I alone can have a violation of my conscience? My religious beliefs?

And if that is the case, can I alone say that, on conscientious objector grounds, I refuse to purchase the product (insurance) offered by any company that provides “Murder services called abortion and morning after pills”? (Or for some folks, even contraceptives as they violate the Will Of God.)

We can be granted Conscientious Objector status for other “mandated services”, even up to the Draft and military service. Is there not more than ample precedent for objector status?

And that is why I think it matters to ask:

Is sin ‘atomic’ or can it be diluted away?

If it CAN be diluted, then at what price can we be absolved of “Murder for hire”?
And who would then be safe from assassins?…

My conclusion is that there is no dilution possible. But I could be wrong…

If I AM wrong, I might want to start a shopping list…
Kind of like Strangers on a Train

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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35 Responses to Is Sin Homeopathic or Can It Be Diluted?

  1. pboucher says:

    (I would say), according to a friend of mine (Paul), participating in the communion of something necessary in life (many of us consider health insurance necessary) does not mean we are guilty of the fact that others offered it to an idol in the preparation of it.

    (Rom 14:20) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
    (Rom 14:21) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
    (Rom 14:22) Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
    (Rom 14:23) And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

    However, if possible since others and possibly the one buying the insurance feel guilty about, they should not do the thing that appears to be evil.

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.:This is about moral, about ethics. But what is it the purpose of it? Is there a scientific REASON behind?
    Let us see a related prohibition: Excess “sex”: As our body is a transformer of energy, from the different foods, from the different frequencies of energy we receive, from solid food, liquids, even light through our eyes or skins. These energies are intended to be transformed as to provide us with enough power not only to live but to, with the excess energy at its higher possible level, reproduce ourselves, to start a new “being”, a new discrete and independent amount of energy, a “quanta”, out from us, with sufficient “momentum” as to start developing independently from ourselves, a new “unit” destined to replace those older units, which by the inevitable process of entropy (also a natural law are dangerously and evidently decaying). This why irresponsibly wasting such a higher lever energy is a “SIN”. Psychiatrists as C.G.Jung, speak of the “Libido” as such energy which follows the same laws of thermodynamics. This “libido”, they say, is transformed not only in reproduction but in science, art, etc….or crime, assassination, war, and all delicacies of a wrongly diverted power.
    Then it is not a matter of discretion, of choice and less of determination by third parties, as “governments”.
    The reason why WE DO NOT KNOW these scientific and testable truths is because some people want all power for them, and to achieve this, they have to keep us in total ignorance, “distracted”, amused and “happy”, while they unceasingly profit from us.
    Nature´s “trick” for overcoming entropy, for “growing up” against the “law of falling down”, against the seemingly and unavoidable entropic “death”, is LIFE; without it the universe as a whole would gradually collapse and die.
    So, dear E.M. THIS IS ABOUT ECONOMY, and the economic laws that you know apply perfectly to it. This is about the caring of your “house” (ecos in Greek), your present and your future.
    Yes, indeed, we are free, to be rich and live or to be poor and die. Our only “free will” is to do it right or wrong. Moral thus it is not bi dimensional it follows a vertical development, upwards against entropy: Either we choose to die or to live for ever. And, doing this it is not an easy endeavor: We must go against the wind.

  3. Richard Ilfeld says:

    There is a distinction between a person of faith making a personal election on belief, and acting thereupon, and a compulsion to act enforced by civil penalty. It has long been demonstrated that sanctions of the faithful do not inhibit free will, nor that alternative expressions of sincere faith sometimes become become acceptable even if once considered apostate..

    No such evolution exists in civil compulsion – it most always cannot stop encroachment until societal collapse with much accompanying misery.

    Sin – if not diluted, is forgivable. Often tolerated. Recognised as part of the human condition. Not a barrier to good works on the part of the sinner.

    The ‘theology’ of a state compelling “sin” is a power struggle pure and simple. In the short run it seems that the religious have brought a knife to a gun fight. In the long run, there would seem to be some core of truth that survives while the trappings of the political state do not.

    The survivors have preached undiluted sin, those who have devolved to the dust of history moral relativism. Not supportive of a particular faith, but supportive of faith having sounder values than civil authority.

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. BTW: From not smoking to not eating fast food, from “climate change” to “redistribution”, all those ideas come from “Big Brother”, that insatiable elite wishing to own all world resources, buying them with trash papers. Do you really think that such ideologists want our good, or that they care about us?. Forget it, no one cares about us!
    The very few really want to reign over the world. They are real DEVILS. (Did you ever wonder the existence of the Devil/Devils?). Well, they do exist but they do not have a tail behind. :-)
    You work just for making them richer. And I am not saying capitalism is bad, No, REAL capitalism is GOOD, that capital which comes from hard working and not from making fake money, as selling “carbon shares”. Their only industry consists in “pouring the empty into the void”, and with the power of that vacuum sucking the real money from everyone´s pockets.

  5. R. de Haan says:

    I think the entire subject wouldn’t be up for discussion if Government wasn’t invading our privacy.

    Reduce government and the problem is solved.

  6. Gary says:

    Is sin atomic? A wise Man once said,” a little yeast leavens the whole lump.” I take that to mean not only is it atomic, but also pernicious. Sort of “homeopathic” in reverse, yes?

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gary:

    I lean to that conclusion, but do wonder if there is another point of view that might show a weakness in that leaning. So far I’m still seeing it as something that cannot be ‘diluted’ to an acceptable level; that, then, does imply that attempts to ‘dilute’ it just end up with ever more contaminated product…

    @R. de Haan:

    Yes, it is true that were there no compulsion we all would be making our own decisions and the moral dilemma would be limited to that one person who could then make their own choice. (Rather like the Muslim prohibition on financial interest. A variety of “Islamic Banking” has grown up to support that religious need for ‘loans without interest’. One can criticize the, to us, silly circumlocutions they sometimes take, but it does let them both have a system with loans of money and meat th requirements of their faith…)

    Yet we DO have that intervention by government and that compulsion. So to say “If we didn’t have the problem we wouldn’t have the problem.”, while it may well be the BEST solution; does not solve the problem we currently have. IF the compulsion continues: Does one of religious conviction have a conscientious objector right? Does dilution remove the sin motivating the exercise of that right?

    @All:

    I’m going to add two more examples of “The Problem”.

    1) Amish: Are workers on an Amish farm to be required to buy medical insurance that works by application of things that are “Sinful”? The use of things and machinery not found in the Bible is thought to be a Sin (so no electric lights or combustion engines). Decorations are ‘prideful’ so a sin. Is it not an unethical compulsion to force them to pay for plastic surgery and the use of modern medical treatments? If electric motors are a sin, are not electric prosthetics and perhaps even pacemakers?

    2) Christian Scientists: They take the notion of God’s Will to a point which, to me, looks extreme. The joke used by the Christian Scientist in my grammar school was “Everyone knows a Christian Scientist, he’s the one with a bent arm!” (As they do not believe in medical intervention at all in God’s Will… even a broken arm is not set, and often heals with a bent aspect). It is not a Sin to force them to pay for a service that they can not use? Or worse, force them to use it? Is it not a sin to force them to pay for OTHERS to use what they think is a sin?

    The more I look at different groups, the more I find “issues” with this mandated behaviour. (Supporting R. de Haan’s point that avoidance of the ‘meddling’ is the best ‘solution’…)

    @Richard Ilfeld:

    Moral Relativism is most likely the larger category of which the question of ‘atomic vs diluted sin’ is a subset. In Moral Relativism, the ‘sin’ would only be relative to something else; so dilution is a viable ‘strategy’. Questions of the form “Is a little funding of abortion relatively ok?” would be answered in the affirmative. To an orthodox Jew, even one drop of pig blood in a freight car of beef destroys the kosher aspect. (And, in fact, if the pig carried trichinosis would make someone sick.)

    If I’ve got that right, then yes, the larger umbrella is one of Moral Relativism vs Foundational Truth. The Cannon. The Orthodox. The Strict Observer. The Fundamentalist. The absolute.

    Is there A Truth, or is there some relative truth… I think that matters.

    @Adolfo:

    If I am in control of my ‘energies’, it is up to me to direct them as God, or the Universal Laws, directs me (for good or ill). If someone in a power structure, acting for their own gain, is manipulating me to direct some of that energy toward THEM, even if I get to keep some gain from the act, then I am in some degree acting against that Universal Law… OK, I think that’s a summary of what you were saying… so…

    Is it a ‘sin against the Universal Law’ to let that energy flow to those few who will then waste and squander it? Is “a little bit stolen from many” OK?

    I think that line of reasoning, too, ends up at “atomic sin”, and allowing any flow of your energy to such a group is “a bad thing”.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    The more I’ve thought about your collective answers, the more I think there is a category missing.

    Sin could be subject to dilution.
    Sin could be “atomic” and not subject to dilution.
    Sin could be infective and subject to expansion.

    Like a bit of E.Coli infection in on cow becoming 100,000 lbs of recalled meat as it all was infected in the handling and packing of ‘unclean’ meat.

    Pondering that, led to a 4th possibility:

    Sin could be variable.

    So, are some sins subject to dilution, while others are atomic and absolute, and a few infective?

    Is “an adulterous thought” subject to gradation and dilution? Can I think the neighbor “good looking” and that’s a more dilute version of “Asking them out” that is even more dilute than “Having an affair”? Or is gradation different from dilution? Is there a difference between killing a person, and contributing $1 to a “kill that person fund” done by another? Was the murder diluted by the time it comes to me? (Vs. killing one person compared to killing 100,000 – the murderer vs the Elder Statesman.)

    Is it a ‘small atomic sin’ to think an adulterous thought, but a large infective sin to have affairs with several neighbors? (As it spreads strife through the community and can increase a variety of ‘wet contact’ diseases being spread – not all of them sexually transmitted – by literally infective.)

    Hmmm…..

    Dilutional
    Atomic
    Infective
    Variable – gradation, D-A-I nature

    Somehow I think I’m making the “problem” worse instead of better…

    Simplifying a bit:

    For things like Obamacare Mandate, infective is even worse than atomic, so the same conclusions hold. Variable by gradation looks like a subset of “dilution”.

    Variable D-A-I nature just means we have to focus on each ISSUE, one at a time, to decide it, not just a global solution.

    So while I’ve complicated things, I think the problem can be re-narrowed back to close to the original question. Is sin Variable brings with it some interesting questions, but for THIS sin, not a confounder. Is it Infective raises the stakes, but leaves the solution path more or less the same.

    (It might raise the intensity with which we were antithetical to the “mandate” if it were an infective sin. If having a little bit of compromise of faith caused the doorway to open for more to flood in. But the path to decision stays the same).

    At any rate, an interesting ‘addition’ to the decision space…

  9. Judy F. says:

    Boy, you always give me something to think about.

    Full disclosure: I am a Catholic mom who had 5 kids and miscarried two.

    Aside from my religious beliefs, I maintain that life begins at conception. I have listened to people say that it is “just a fetus”. Yet I know that a fetus is not going to develop into a Cocker Spaniel, a Barn Owl or a horse- it will only develop into a human. And after I have seen ultra sound pictures of my children, just a few weeks past conception, with a beating heart, moving their arms and legs, with recognizeable features ( and once with no heartbeat and no movement) I became even more certain that these were truly human beings. There is no way that you could force me to kill those babies, and we can pretty up that language all we want to say “terminate a pregnancy” but it doesn’t change what the act is. I could not do it. So then if you asked me if I would give money to someone to go have an abortion, I would say no. And that is what Obamacare is telling me to do. On moral grounds alone I find that repugnant.

    Then we add in the religious aspect. At some point we have to draw a line in the sand and not cross it. Do not force me to be complicit in an abortion, or force a Jew to eat pork or a Quaker to fight in a war. You may not like my beliefs, or think them silly, but they are to me, the moral guidelines I live by.
    ( That being said, within the framework of each religion is each individuals personal choice or free will. That is an entirely separate issue from the doctrine of each religion.) And if we as a nation or collective group, allow the government to ride roughshod over those beliefs, then we are a pretty pathetic people.

    I had ancestors come to the New World in the 1600’s to avoid religious persecution in their own country.

    I had an ancestor fight in almost every war America has been involved in, even before we were the USA. Some of those ancestors died. They fought and died so that the Constitution was upheld and those freedoms that we were guaranteed could be enjoyed by subsequent generations. Now I see a president, with one flourish of the pen, saying in essence, “Oh well, nevermind”. Like I said, a line has to be drawn and not crossed. I would dishonor my own beliefs as well as the sacrifices of my ancestors to allow this to happen.

  10. John F. Hultquist says:

    Compare the concept of insurance underlying autos with what is happening to medical care. It is not correct to call the latter insurance.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bigger-cars-get-better-insurance-rates-2012-02-10

  11. Judy F. says:

    Sorry, EM I went rather rantwise on your question…

    @EM 19:39:10

    Some are already exempt from Obamacare http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/exemptions.asp

  12. pboucher says:

    Sorry- It’s hard to say this without sounding conceited. It comforts me to be in situations where I’m confident I’m not the smartest person in the room… From the discussion on this blog I’m quite comforted right now. Perhaps this is PART of why I do believe in God and therefore sin. It must be uncomfortable to believe this is all chance.

  13. Jason Calley says:

    Or does the presence of sin stimulate hormesis?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis

  14. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Judy F: Something really evil is happening in some parts of the world. History has shown it time after time. You are absolutely right in your thoughts. We cannot do anything, “they” are too powerful. Big Brother is Big…until nature decides to fix things up.

  15. Verity Jones says:

    For many years of my life I fell into line with what others thought and believed – parents, peers etc. But I found that gave me a very strict moral code that did not take account of many changes in society and I found myself needing to think about grey areas and times where issues were not black and white. But what if…?

    I can’t say I’ve faced many moral dilemmas, but now I know my own mind on most issues now, and know why I hold the opinions I do.

    Like Judy F, I too am a “line in the sand” kind of person. I can go so far, but know I will not cross the line. Some say I’m well named ;-) There are times I enjoy being tempted just a little but KNOWING that I will not give in to it – for example staring in the window of a patisserie (OK eating pastries isn’t exactly a sin, but you know what I mean). Is a revenge fantasy a sin when you know you would never go through with it?

  16. R. de Haan says:

    E.M.Smith (19:39:10) :
    Lincolns’s fatalism and America’s faith
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NB14Dj01.html

  17. R. de Haan says:

    The biggest sin is to allow big government to take away your civil rights and your freedoms.

  18. Eric Barnes says:

    Part 1 Yes, No and Yes and No.
    Part 2 Yes, No and Yes and No.
    from a longtime agnostic.

    Sad times for liberty and tolerance.

    Get rid of Obama in 2012.

  19. Sera says:

    We were taught, in Catholic school, that it takes three things to commit a sin: 1) You must know that it is a sin/know that it is wrong, 2) You must do it willingly (can not be forced), and 3) Then you must actually do the deed.

    So- thinking of something bad is not a sin, and being forced to do something is not a sin.

    As far as money for medical insurance and what it covers, then “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. Don’t really see the problem there.

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Sera: That´s OK, but the problem is Cesar´s modern representatives have become too intrusive and want to replace God or Nature totally. Those who win an election are not supposed to be our “superiors” in anything, as our employees, really they should commit themselves to the job they have to perform or to be fired. The problem is that, in many cases, elected officials think, or rather “hallucinate”, that they are our “ELDERS”, come on!, that´s a symptom of an inferiority complex!, they know what they are: in the majority of cases our inferiors, that is why they try to compensate that being so intrusive and autoritative. A real superior man does not care about it, only fools do.
    This is a consequence of such abomination called “democracy”.

  21. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Politicians are supposed to be interchangeable and disposable. Time to dispose of the lot! Especially the public servants that aspire to be Masters.
    Bureaucracies always destroy the civilizations that they manage, ALWAYS. It is us or them and they know it and they think that they are winning. Time to starve them out as they can not feed or cloth themselves. The ONLY way to get rid of bureaucracies is to cut off the money, wealth, that flows through their hands. They are thieves stealing from your children’s plates for their own. pg

  22. R. de Haan says:

    They’re all disposable.

    Just like the departments they work for.

    Just ask Paul.

  23. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Even if Ron Paul is a crazy old uncle, he is right!

    Prophesies for this period is that the Great Deceiver ( the Obamanation) will be replaced by a Wise Old Man. Any guesses? who that might be?
    The Great Lier will attempt to rule by decree in his last days and will so discredit the philosophy of “More” that it will be swept away.

    “May you live in interesting times”

    The end of this year is the end of the old ways and the beginning of the new way of doing things. Buy more popcorn and enjoy the movie. pg

  24. david says:

    Dear Mr. Smith, (as I typed the preceeding I thought, can you go to Washington (-; thank you for your thoughtful post. I think your logic is impeccable within the framework of the founding principles of this Republic. From First amendment rights of private religions, to private organizations, to an individuals conscientious objector grounds, this mandate should logically be found unconstitutional.

    It is also a classic demonstration of how socialism ALWAYS turns into tyranny over individual choice. How have Europe’s Catholics handled this? Do they lack the individual protections written within the US constitution?

    Now your murder for hire scenario; If it (sin) CAN be diluted, then at what price can we be absolved of “Murder for hire”?; leads to another interesting question; At what point is war, not murder? (that is a long and intensive philosophical discussion)

    Let me summarize my view; War, may or may not be murder, that depends on many factors, but murder for hire cannot be diluted, and war does not jeopardize your logic.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F.:

    And that’s exactly the problem with a “mandated purchase” where someone else decides what is in the package. It is exactly why “central planning” fails. It removes “free will” and the ability to do just what fits with the rest of your beliefs.

    (And I didn’t think it ‘rant’ish… Oh, and that a small amount of ‘backing off’ doesn’t remove the basic problem. Must I fight ever day against endless such encroaching? If I, too, feel offended by do not ‘fit’ the ‘acceptable exemptions’, isn’t that just being the same problem with the most vocal set aside? Hardly and improvement, IMHO.)

    Sidebar on “When Live Begins?” – I assert it began once, long long ago. The egg is a living cell, it isn’t dead. It carries life forward with it. When joined with a sperm cell, a new INDIVIDUAL life is formed, but is isn’t formed from death, it is formed from two living halves. So the individual forms at conception, and every moment after that is simply exposition… Death only comes into the issue at the very end…

    @John F. Hultquist:

    There is a subtle difference between insurance and welfare. Capitalism is “from each according to his ability, to each according to his ability.” Communism is “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    Insurance is SUPPOSED to be “From each according to his RISK, to each according to his COVERAGE.” Where the actuaries compute the risk and the customer chooses the coverage (which is a subset of ‘need’).

    Shortly after the “missing costs” were loaded onto private insurance company payments (as they were dodged by the public ‘free’ recipients), the insurance aspect started to leave. It became ever more “From each according to his RISK, to each according to his NEED.” As that was not sustainable, premiums started to rise. Folks started to opt out of buying expensive coverage, and companies stopped covering some high risk things (but kept prices high). To prevent the inevitable end game of folks leaving the system (as they were getting fleeced), we go a “mandate to buy”.

    But since a lot of folks could not pay the costs, we started getting various sorts of distortions to the “pay proportional to risk”. Women simply cost more, but the gender risks could not be recognized. Aged folks have most of the costs, young folks very little, so young folks were least likely to buy. We get mandatory buying by young people to FORCE “from each according to ability” and with little ‘need’…

    The process has been transformed into “From each according to his Risk+SocialShare, to each according to his need.” Substantially just shy of the communist form. So, “Socialized Medicine”. It is no longer ‘insurance’.

    @PBoucher:

    Belief in God or Religion is orthogonal to I.Q. I’ve known a LOT of very bright religious folks and even more “dumb as a post” atheists… History is full of very smart believers, in all religions… Frankly, the more I look at some aspects of physics, the more “religious” it looks…

    @Jason Calley:

    Ooohh! I LIKE it! So my teenage years were not wasted, I was just stimulating my piety ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    Um, Mubarak was the local “Big Fish”… One might point out that The Arab Spring has been all about bringing down the powerful… One might also ask if it will continue on past the Muslim states and head a bit more north…

    @Eric Barnes:

    Don’t know if I mapped your ‘yes and no’s correctly, but go the conclusion clearly ;-)

    @R. de Haan:

    Lincoln was widely hated in life, deified in death. Had some good thoughts along the way, clearly understood how dire things can be…

    @Sera:

    Good point on the “forced”. So If I tell you that you MUST kill a child, is that “force”? Or do I need a weapon? Is saying you will have an annoying fine “force”? I was not Catholic (though Dad was) so don’t know the whole cannon… but … For an Amish, you simply must do ‘passive resistance’ if possible, only yielding to force when it really IS force. So “turn the other cheek” most of the time, but continue to work toward free will… (A long debate took place about putting the red triangle on the back of buggies. As it was brightly colored, it could be seen as vanity or pridefulness. The eventual resolution was, since it was not a matter of free will, it was not filled with pride, so acceptable. Similarly, some Amish now use store buttons as they are no longer expensive and dear (thus prideful) but simply utilitarian. Yet the effort remains to avoid the sins…)

    So there is a duty to continue to push for the removal of the ‘force’…

    @Adolfo:

    Perhaps we all ought to go re-read the ancient Greeks on the evils of Democracy and the nature of man…

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Maybe we ought to have “Zero Based Budgeting”, where each 4 years, ALL departments are closed and they get to recreate only the ones needed…

    FWIW, I find it fascinating that Ron Paul is attracting a very young crowd. They KNOW that they get nothing and are expected to give gifts to all the folks older and richer than them feeding at the public trough…

    More than anything else that gives me hope. The “young ones” want to shut down the stupidity…

  26. Sera says:

    @ adolfogiurfa (15:52:55) :

    Amen to that.

  27. Jeff Alberts says:

    @Judy

    How do you feel about contraception?

    @Sera

    Isn’t “coveting” something or someone a sin according to the Christian faith? That certainly is only thinking about something.

    Full disclosure, I’m an atheist.

  28. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Jeff Alberts: Even an atheist must recognize that 2 + 2 = 4….and not even God could change this, without destroying its own creation.
    Life is Nature´s trick for overcoming entropy….and death.

  29. Jeff Alberts says:

    @adolfoguirfa

    Sorry, I’m a bit dim. I have no idea what you’re replying to. I’m going to make a guess and say you’re referring to contraception. But then I still don’t know what your point is. ;)

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jeff Alberts:

    I’m no expert on it, but I vaguely remember a discussion of the “coveting” laws. It basically made a distinction (perhaps only in the original Hebrew) between thinking “My, that neighbors spouse is desirable” and taking steps to act on those thoughts. So thinking only is “temptation” while asking “Interested in dinner?” is coveting. We are all subject to temptation, but only a sinner gives in to the temptation and moves to coveting via some enabling actions.

    I think Adolfo is talking about the paradox of divine power, that it can in theory change anything, so nothing can be ‘fixed’ in nature. The response is that yes, God could change anything, but does not. God creates a world with sane and consistent laws, then lets us have free will inside of that context. To then redefine it (i.e. change 2+2) would cause the original creation to be destroyed, and while it would be replaced with a new reality (with different results and outcomes from that changed underlayment of math and physics) it would not be THIS reality. So even God could not make such changes while preserving this reality and this ‘test’ on the wheel of life.

    In essence, God can “cheat” but chooses not to do so…

    Then again, I’m often struggling to figure out if my projections match Adolfo’s points, or not…

  31. Jeff Alberts says:

    @EM Smith

    I guess I’m going by the standard dictionary of “covet”, which is simply desire, or maybe extreme desire. I understand that perhaps the intent of the commandment was to prevent one from consuming oneself with desire for something one cannot have, but maybe they should have used a better word in the translations.

    re: Adolfo – Lol, I still don’t know how that applies to what I said. I need pictures…

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jeff Alberts:

    As I understand it, it’s a Hebrew thing that gets lost in translation. Like “Thou Shalt Not Kill” that actually was “Thou Shalt Not Commit unjustified Murder” (but doing in millions in a just war or slaying someone for sin or any of thousands of other killings are just Okey Dokey with God…)

    So “Covet” in English is as close as we could get to “PLANNING to fulfill the temptation even if not actually doing it yet”. I.e. the presence of intention to the act, not just temptation to the act…

    So drooling in front of the display case is OK (as long as you resist the temptation), but asking “How much do they cost?” while looking at how much money you have is forbidden… In both cases you still have not bought the doughnut … but one has more “coveting” while the other is just temptation to sin…

    I know, Angles and Pins stuff. ( I ran into it during some OTHER theological moment years and years ago. Was amazed that folks were so involved in working out all the details – then again, what else does a priest have to do ;-) Yet also appreciated a way to ‘scratch that particular itch’ of inconsistency.

    So this isn’t just something I made up; it is the actual Theological Basis… at least from what I could find.

  33. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Ooohh! I LIKE it! So my teenage years were not wasted, I was just stimulating my piety ;-) ”

    As a young man, Saint Augustine of Hippo had a prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

    Maybe not a bad idea. Seriously, if cowpox can save you from smallpox, maybe a small sin can save you from a great sin.

    However, perhaps we should consider sin to be an adjective, not a noun. Sin is not an act, it is a nexus of motivations, desires and purpose that surrounds an act; stabbing a man is sinful, cutting out a tumour is not sinful. Harvesting grain on a Sabbath in order to sell it is a sin. Harvesting grain on a Sabbath in order to feed the starving is not a sin.

    Unfortunately, we work in gray areas sometimes, and I honestly do not know whether mandated governmental insurance induces a Catholic to sin or not. During WWII, when Jews worked in underground slave factories building weapons to kill both Allied soldiers and innocent civilians, was their work sinful? Should they have refused, knowing they faced death? Should they have refused, knowing they would be murdered even of they did work building the weapons, just not murdered quite so soon?

    Obviously, we have not reached Nazi-level here in the states, but we have apparently reached the point where we will be forced to follow either our conscience or our government.

  34. Pascvaks says:

    Usually, well sometimes “usually”, I can read the entry and the comments and make my own attempt at contributing or rendering an opinion. This one’s got so many parts, pieces, components, and widgets, that I’m forced early on to make notes and comments as I go. I’ve already dropped a few and shan’t go back to find them. Hope I end up with something meaningful. Here goes –

    @Judy F. (20:40:05) –
    “just a fetus” – a technical term, as you note. Agree, human life begins at conception, pretty hard to say it doesn’t unless you’re a lawyer splitting hairs and subatomic particles for the sake and art of hair splitting and monetary gain.

    “There is no way that you could force me to kill those babies, and we can pretty up that language all we want to say “terminate a pregnancy” but it doesn’t change what the act is. I could not do it.” Now we’re down to the nitty gritty. Force! Against your will! The foundation of our 18th Century experiment was that ‘We The People.. in order to form a more perfect union..’ etc. etc., adopted words WE put and VOTED to approve on a piece of paper. These words are our contract with each other (well the legal ones who played by the rules to get here;-). What those words say is key. “We the people…”, think a moment, right from the beginning, the corrupt, the ‘carpetbaggers’ if you will, have always tried to weasel this little thing and that little thing into the “meaning of the words” on the paper and redefine the “laws” to suit their purpose. Who, in the end, says it’s in the constitution? The People! Not Congress or the Commander-in-Chef or the Supremes, the People. Why is the amendment process so long and hard? Because amendments have to be blessed by We The People. Why have the Courts and the Congress and the President tried to usurp the process? For convenience. They’re lazy. They know that what they want to do is NOT legal. It’s a bluff. But so far a lot of folks have slept through it all and shazaaam these new ideas and ’requirements’ been on the books for years. Freedom and good government are like a house. If’n you don’t keep it up, it’ll rot and fall apart. Our house is rotting and falling apart. Why there’s even a bunch of folks who think the Constitution is just a “guide”. I think there’s about 200 million of them now and they got that idea back in the 50’s with the Warren Court dictating what the meaning of “is” is, and saying that their brand new divine, wonderful gowns and assertions were like ‘the king’s new clothes‘. But Eisenhower was a military man and liked simple solutions to big problems and went along and the people slept through it all pretty much and said “Yes Sir General!”, after all we were in a bad, bad, bad, Cold War with the Evil Empire, right? God and Country First, right? Salute the Flag and keep on marching, right? When the air raid siren blares get down under your desk and pray like a good little kid. War’s have a way of screwing up pieces of paper and words, don’t they?

    I’ve failed! One day I may learn to make comments to multiple entries but it ain’t gonna happen today. When it comes to sin, one of the worst is sloth. This one leads to other ones, big and little. Don’t trust anyone, especially a bunch of anyones you don’t even know, to manage your life and liberties. They’ll screw you every chance they get. If you do you’re guilty of a very big sin and one day or another you’re gonna go to hell. Nuf’ said;-)

  35. David says:

    I communicate with My Uncle in Germany. He had this to say on the subjet at hand…

    “At the moment I am EXTREMELY upset with Obama’s appropiation of the religious conscience. Recently I saw on German tv a 3 part series on Hitler’s “Machtergreifung” (“grapping power”) all done legally in accord with the Weimar Republik. Hitler then proceeded to realize a “Gleichschaltung” (“forcing compliance”) of all societal organizations, even to a degree the Catholic Church and almost completely the Protestants. Watching the documentary, I found myself saying repeatedly: “My God, that is Obama’s trick”. The forcing of religious people to pay for abortion is an Obama form of “Gleichschaltung”. I will send you some e-mails on the matter in a short time.”

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