Good because of religion? Or in spite of it?

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Batou667:

Ear piercings heal up on their own with time. A chopped-off clitoris, labia or foreskin doesn't grow back.

Even if we approach it from the angle of self-determination, of making decisions on behalf of our children, yeah, that happens all the time. It's an issue of how reasonable, potentially harmful, or gratuitous those decisions are though. You're forbidden by law from naming your son Sonic The Hedgehog because it's a gratuitous abuse of authority - despite the existence of deed polls - and yet you're allowed to have him ritually mutilated in an irreversible medical procedure. It's insanity.

And if your child had a cleft lip, you'd try to fix it in an irreversible medical procedure.

Face it, all of the information around this subject seems to indicate that the benefits of circumcision marginally outweigh the risks, so people should really just do what they think is best.

Kaulen Fuhs:

thaluikhain:

Batou667:
Certainly it's easy to see how religion inspires a lot of stuff that's anathema to fairly basic human morality and empathy - human sacrifice, child genital mutilation, crusades, pogroms, suicide bombing.

Does it though? Those sorts of things happen without religion being involved.

While I oppose trying to cast religion in the worst possible light, I don't see how genital mutilation or human sacrifice can crop up in places bereft of its influence.

More importantly, I don't know how such things can continue in an enlightened society without religious influence.

Actually, male circumcision was widely practiced before it was a big religious thing. There are certain bacteria that use the foreskin as a breeding ground, and cause urinary tract infections problems if left untreated. These bacteria are primarily found in hot, dry environments, such as deserts, and it was in desert areas that circumcision was historically practiced widely, usually Middle East, Egypt and the Sudan,

Of course, due to modern medicine, such problems are easily curable, but a few thousand or even a few hundred years ago it would have made more sense.

For a good person to do good things religion is not necessary.
For a bad person to do bad things religion is not necessary.
Now for a good person to do things, that takes religion.

Good people do good things not because nor in spite, they do them regardless of religion.

tstorm823:
And if your child had a cleft lip, you'd try to fix it in an irreversible medical procedure.

Face it, all of the information around this subject seems to indicate that the benefits of circumcision marginally outweigh the risks, so people should really just do what they think is best.

Without wanting to skirt too near to a naturalistic argument, having a foreskin is normal and healthy for the vast majority - the only time this isn't true is when you consider poor hygiene (wash more!) or phimosis, and I believe that's something that should be operated on if and when it occurs, not pre-emptively. A cleft palate is a deformity which universally carries clear disadvantages. The two really aren't comparable except the fact that they're both irreversible surgery that's undertaken without the child's consent - but like I said before consent isn't really the issue here, it's whether the decisions made on the child's behalf are reasonable and appropriate.

ALL the information supports circumcision? That's debatable. If that were universally accepted then why doesn't Europe have notably worse male sexual health than the US? And why haven't European doctors adopted the procedure? Certainly the counter-examples are easy to find: loss of sexual sensation, scar tissue causing skin bridging, infection or even death. The benefits associated with circumcision - slightly less incidence of STIs - aren't applicable until adulthood anyway, so why not make the procedure voluntary and self-determined rather than routinely mutilating infants? Childhood circumcision only makes sense within a religious context.

Batou667:

Without wanting to skirt too near to a naturalistic argument, having a foreskin is normal and healthy for the vast majority - the only time this isn't true is when you consider poor hygiene (wash more!) or phimosis, and I believe that's something that should be operated on if and when it occurs, not pre-emptively. A cleft palate is a deformity which universally carries clear disadvantages. The two really aren't comparable except the fact that they're both irreversible surgery that's undertaken without the child's consent - but like I said before consent isn't really the issue here, it's whether the decisions made on the child's behalf are reasonable and appropriate.

ALL the information supports circumcision? That's debatable. If that were universally accepted then why doesn't Europe have notably worse male sexual health than the US? And why haven't European doctors adopted the procedure? Certainly the counter-examples are easy to find: loss of sexual sensation, scar tissue causing skin bridging, infection or even death. The benefits associated with circumcision - slightly less incidence of STIs - aren't applicable until adulthood anyway, so why not make the procedure voluntary and self-determined rather than routinely mutilating infants? Childhood circumcision only makes sense within a religious context.

And circumcision is associated with preventing urinary tract infections within the first year of life, making the timing quite significant. And I apologize if my phrasing was a little ambiguous; I didn't mean that all the info supported circumcision, I meant when you take in all the info either supporting or rejecting circumcision, circumcision generally comes out barely on top.

Let's put it this way- if their were a way at birth to surgically prevent wisdom teeth from growing in that person, would you be upset with parents for taking that option?

Circumcision makes plenty of sense out of religious context. I'm sure you just don't like that it has religious context at all.

tstorm823:

And circumcision is associated with preventing urinary tract infections within the first year of life, making the timing quite significant. And I apologize if my phrasing was a little ambiguous; I didn't mean that all the info supported circumcision, I meant when you take in all the info either supporting or rejecting circumcision, circumcision generally comes out barely on top.

Let's put it this way- if their were a way at birth to surgically prevent wisdom teeth from growing in that person, would you be upset with parents for taking that option?

They might as well go the whole hog and remove my tonsils and appendix while they're at it, just in case. Maybe remove my testicles and freeze the sperm for when I decide to reproduce via IVF, so as to avoid testicular cancer. Is bodily integrity and personal autonomy really so worthless?

Circumcision makes plenty of sense out of religious context. I'm sure you just don't like that it has religious context at all.

Well, circumcision has *some* justification outside of a religious context, which I suppose stands it head and shoulders above 99% of religious practices, although that's not saying much as far as I'm concerned. I'm not convinced that the prophylactic argument is enough justification to perform such an invasive and irreversible surgery - but hey, plenty of people apparently think otherwise.

I don't know of a single person who is good in spite of their religion. I do know that my religion has helped me in times where I wanted to do some evil things. It sucks that I'm so crappy, but, sometimes, the selfishness of being afraid of hellfire is the only thing that can break through my anger and help me realize that I'm the one in the wrong.

I honestly believe that ethical atheism exists on the back of religious enlightenment. I'm not saying that atheism is wrong, just that it took religion for the idea to even happen. The ethical atheist philosophies might be self-supporting now, but they only exist because religion kept people pacified enough that such thinking could even happen.

And I honestly believe that most intrinsic morality comes from a religious heritage, because religion, unlike reason, can effect base desires. In fact, the only way for morality to succeed, even if it is atheistic, is for it to be spread like a religion. It must be taught as unquestionably true at first, and only allow questions after it is ingrained.

Otherwise, we get ethical systems like Objectivism or other ego-centric systems.

trlkly:
sometimes, the selfishness of being afraid of hellfire is the only thing that can break through my anger and help me realize that I'm the one in the wrong.

If fear is the only thing convincing you not to do something, then have you genuinely realised you're the one in the wrong at all?

It's not altruistic to act purely out of self-interest.

I think it would be stupid to think that religion doesn't play an influence on people. If people can point to bad things in the past and say religion played a part in it then it's hypocritical to then sy that it doesn't in turn cause good things. We put a lot of stock in teaching kids right so that they grow up to be good people, so I fail to see how certain religions that teach things we find to be laudable traits somehow don't have any effect just because they are a religion.

I don't see how you can claim to be a rational and logical person that bases their opinions on objective facts and then make an illogical statement like that and not see the problem.

Silvanus:
If fear is the only thing convincing you not to do something, then have you genuinely realised you're the one in the wrong at all?

I know this wasn't directed to me, so I hope you don't mind me jumping in, but I find this a rhetorical question. If hell-fire is visited only upon those who are in the wrong, and so you're afraid because you were in the wrong, then you've realised you were in the wrong, and are thus afraid of the hell-fire?

As for altruism, most of the world's major religions don't even preach true altruism; Christianity is a terrific example. It's not about being 100% selfless for 100% selfless reasons; it's about being selfless even when you want to be selfish. Self-denial is a core component of most of the world's major religions; it's about wanting to do bad things, but not acting on those desires because you know they're bad.

Zeh Don:

As for altruism, most of the world's major religions don't even preach true altruism; Christianity is a terrific example. It's not about being 100% selfless for 100% selfless reasons; it's about being selfless even when you want to be selfish. Self-denial is a core component of most of the world's major religions; it's about wanting to do bad things, but not acting on those desires because you know they're bad.

The moral component depends on the individual's reason for self-denial, though.

People who wish to do something, and are discouraged out of fear, are not practising self-denial; they're merely having something denied to them.

I recognise the point about altruism, though. I could've been clearer.

Zeh Don:
Going one step further, how do you feel about genetic manipulation or embryo selection? I remember reading an article some time ago about a deaf couple who wanted their children to be born deaf, as the parents didn't consider the lack of a hearing a disability. Theoretically speaking, if we perfect genetic manipulation for children, it's on the table. Even something as far fetched as electing to have children with tails isn't outside the realm of possibility. Do you feel the same way about this type of selection?

Yes, just the same: Opposed. Just like with circumcision, FGM or tattoos, I don't think inflicting that type of harm on a child that cannot consent is within the rights of the parents-to-be.
Of course, the comparison is somewhat off. A child that didn't get circumcised can still decide to get circumcised later in life if they want to. Growing a tail through genetic manipulation is impossible afterwards. But I'd still stick with my answer, because the same harm principles apply.

Silvanus:
...People who wish to do something, and are discouraged out of fear, are not practising self-denial; they're merely having something denied to them...

Hmm, I see your point. I still think there is some "wiggle room" though, especially within a religious context where forgiveness to the point of absolution is promised, but not enough to override the base premise you've presented.

Skeleon:
...I don't think inflicting that type of harm on a child that cannot consent is within the rights of the parents-to-be...

Understood.
I'll play devil's advocate here somewhat, simply to see where this goes: does the same principle apply to vaccinations, where a baby has a small but real chance to contract the disease they're being vaccinated against?
Let's go one further for arguments sake. Pretend we had the ability to genetically modify an embryo to become immune to most known illnesses. The trade off was that the child's skin colour became irreversibly blue. Would this be acceptable?

Zeh Don:
I'll play devil's advocate here somewhat, simply to see where this goes: does the same principle apply to vaccinations, where a baby has a small but real chance to contract the disease they're being vaccinated against?

No, it doesn't apply here. I'm guessing you're thinking of measles, since that's the most common and very important vaccination typically given to little children that consists of an attenuated virus rather than just bits and pieces of pathogens (which can't cause the illness). There aren't that many live vaccines these days.

Anyway, it's an issue of weighing risks against each other. In fact, I would make the argument that not vaccinating against measles is the negligent thing to do here because of the risks of long-term damages to the child (and other children and immuno-compromised people).

If that seems inconsistent to you (arguing against procedures on some points, arguing for procedures on other points), let me remind you that I'm basing my position on the issue of harm and the prevention thereof. That is, after all, what a lot of medicine is based around. One of my teachers said it like this: If a drug has no side-effects, it also has no effects. So you're always balancing benefit with risk and the best result for that calculation is the proper way to go.

You're exposing a child to more risk and harm if you don't vaccinate them against measles than if you do. The risks involved are minuscule and the benefit far outweighing them. Very unlike, say, circumcision.

EDIT: To further expand upon this: When we are faced with somebody who can't give consent, we need to rely on assumed consent instead. And that's were the prevention of harm as a principle enters into it. It's also why I'd be in favour of medically necessary procedures without actually receiving a baby's consent first (incapable as they are of giving it), while I'd not be in favour of unnecessary procedures. If they're unnecessary, they can wait until consent can be given. We look at the harm that would come from performing the procedure versus the harm that would come from not doing it.

Let's go one further for arguments sake. Pretend we had the ability to genetically modify an embryo to become immune to most known illnesses. The trade off was that the child's skin colour became irreversibly blue. Would this be acceptable?

Illnesses? As in, of any sort, not just infectious diseases? Woah. Outlandish hypothetical, but... I have to admit I'm not sure on that one. Since it all boils down to harm yet again, one'd have to try and evaluate the repercussions this might have besides the immunity to illnesses.
Imagine if the social pressures lead to a massive increase in the rates of suicides of such people, for instance. Or if - due to prejudice - their education and job opportunities were practically nil.
On the other hand, if a sufficiently large segment of the populace were to engage in this, it'd benefit our society quite a lot and persecution would presumably decline as normalization sets in.
Still. With the incredible boon you're attributing to this hypothetical treatment, the consequentialist in me can barely argue against it. Immune to most illnesses. That'd be... worth almost any social issues, especially if they're only relevant in a transitionary period. Could it ever be ethical not to try and turn all of humanity into smurfs in that scenario?
But maybe you can think of another dilemma, one that is more realistic.

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