27 Responses to Examine the evidence

  1. toadspittle says:

    “Condoms are promoted as ‘safe sex’. But they don’t reliably prevent many sexually transmitted diseases.”

    Says Joyful.

    Toad is especially fond of her, because she always speaks her mind clearly and honestly.
    But he believes she is not being absolutely ‘reasonable or logical or rational,’ when she spouts stuff like this.
    Weasel word here,”reliably”
    NOTHING is 100 per cent safe. No car journey, no seat belt, no jet flight, no mine disaster, no birth pill, no promise, no “I’ll love you forever if you come to bed with me now, no ideas about Limbo,
    NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING!
    This naturally includes contraceptives.
    So, obviously, contraceptives don’t prevent ALL sexually transmitted diseases EVERY TIME; (sorry for the caps emphasis) But what they do do – and this is indisputable – is to prevent A GREAT MANY DISEASES, a great deal of the time.
    In fact, more often than not. No,
    Toad can’t prove that.
    But, it is reasonable to suspect it, surely.
    Which NOTHING else does. ((except, of course, having NO extra-marital sex at all. Yea, right!) .

    So, Toad thinks that contraceptives are a GOOD THING.

    Silly old Toad.

    (What Toad thinks Joyful and Golden are doing, is setting up a lot of straw men like the above, and, with transubstantiation, then setting fire to them and then saying, “Look, Toad, they are only made of straw!”)

    Parable.

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  2. toadspittle says:

    Coding all bollixed up as usual.
    Doh!

    Can’t edit it.

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  3. toadspittle says:

    On reflection, Toad seems to recognise, a certain mind set here, regarding ‘Sin,’
    i.e. sex and, ultimately, and very tragically, abortion, which reminds him of Mr Punch’s (the ‘humorous’ magazine) Victorian-era advice to those young men considering getting married: “Don’t!”
    A bit like the advice the gambling experts have for horse race punters, “Only back winners.”

    As Toad has said before, Overpopulation is NOT a myth. Anywhere where people are starving and dying because, for whatever reason, they cannot sustain their lives, is overpopulated. Places like Sub Saharan Africa, where the poor hopeless people daily risk their lives in utterly unseaworthy boats, trying to escape to Spain and Europe, and all too often fail.
    A playful suggestion to Joyful,
    “Why not nip over to Somalia and reassure the human skeletons there that the world can sustain many more people, that we have all got plenty to eat, that there is plenty of everything for all of us?’
    And saying that, well, it’s simply because things are not organised properly, is an insult to them, and to the rest of the world as as well.
    They die just the same in this ‘underpopulated’ paradise as they would in an overpopulated world.
    Horribly..

    But it’s not God’s fault. Toad agrees with that. He’s a bit cross.

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  4. toadspittle says:

    Toad is sorry to keep ‘endlessly’ posting on here, but this one does get up his two green noses.

    Joyful talks of the world being ‘underpopulated’ as if it was a single, indivisible unit.
    But it is not.
    Sure, Spain and Finland and Sweden and New Zealand and even Ireland (this week) may well be underpopulated.
    (Toad gathers that the young Irish are leaving in mobs, due to The Crisis)
    But many other places are, even now, vastly overpopulated. Too many mouths, not enough food.
    Let us, for example, hypothetically consider a desert, say the Gobi Desert. (The sadly lamented (dead again?) Burro, hates my hypotheses.
    He can’t understand why I should be concerned that if I’d been born in Mecca, I’d probably be a Muslim!)
    Let us agree that Gobi has enough water for, say, 100,000 people. If there are, in fact, 200,000 people there , it is overpopulated by fifty percent. (Or whatever, Toad is rotten at math, but you get the general idea.)

    Easy, says Joyful, just take 10,000 Gobi people and send them to us in New Zealand.
    Or does she? No doubt, the ‘Kiwis’ would put out the red carpet for them, but how many, less civilised, countries would do likewise?
    If all the world was like New Zealand, things would be just peachy.

    But it ain’t.

    Joyful will confirm this,

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  5. joyfulpapist says:

    I agree, Toad. I insist we don’t have a world overpopulation problem. But we definitely have more people than resources in many, many places. This is a greed problem. It is a selfishness problem. It is a problem of an attitude that says: let’s stop these people breeding because then we won’t have to do anything about the conditions that our ancestors help to cause and we have allowed to continue.

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  6. rebrites says:

    Yes, I understand Toad´s done his share of bloviating on this topic. But flying in the face of those who uphold the Only One Opinion Per Household rule, I will address the egregious “# stories about the bitterness of women who feel they’ve been sold short by the contraceptive revolution
    # life – just look around. Ask a woman.” comment.

    I´ve been a woman all my life, and a sexually active one more than half of that time. No one´s asked me, (usually they are too polite), but as a practicing Catholic and as a fertile woman I thank God in heaven for artificial birth control. I do NOT see it as a swizz or a con or any kind of bad thing at all. It is a gift, a blessing. The ability to maintain a stable and loving relationship with my husband FREE of unplanned children has made me unimaginably more productive, happy, joyful, meditative, contemplative, hospitable, creative, and just generally human than I ever could have been if even one tenth of my sexual life had resulted in the birth and subsequent raising of offspring.
    Children are beautiful, I love kids, I have two beautiful children (now no longer children!) I love more than anything in this world. If I´d had ten, they would have missed out on a great deal of my best child-raising. They would have suffered, and I would have been stunted, too. I most probably would be dead now.

    Perhaps the “weasel word” here is “unimaginably.” I was not always a Catholic, so my reproductive imagination is limited. But to have self-righteous people, who have absolutely no awareness of my situation, tell me I should just “let go and let God” determine the number of children I have with my husband? Puh-leeze. Just imagine, Toad raising toddlers. The mind boggles.

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  7. joyfulpapist says:

    Rebrites, with respect, you are answering the wrong question.

    My assertion was not that artificial contraception has made your individual life better or worse – how the hell would I know? It was that social stereotypes of women in 2010 are harder to live with than social stereotypes of women in 1950. You may well disagree with me. But please disagree with the point I made.

    I acknowledge – and did acknowledge above – that seeing a causative link is speculative.

    I did not bring family size into the question, and I certainly didn’t suggest you ‘let go and let God’ – indeed, my husband and I planned and limited the size of our own family (using NFP). Then God sent us three more (one birth child, and two children of a friend who died leaving them without a mother or relatives). So my children grew up in a household with six children and two working parents, and I can assure you that none of them are stunted, and I’m not dead.

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  8. toadspittle says:

    “But we definitely have more people than resources in many, many places.”

    Says Joyful.

    In Toad’s bloviating opinion, that is a textbook definition of ‘overpopulation.’

    But only when used by protestants and agnostics, maybe.

    Welcome to the Wonderland world of CP&S, where words mean whatever we want them to mean, or too bad for them!

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  9. joyfulpapist says:

    Toad, I blogged about the myth that the world was overpopulated. If you want to argue that downtown Brussels is overpopulated, or the Gobi Desert, or – for that matter – Kirkaldie and Stains on the three day annual sale (think Harrods), then you won’t be arguing with me; I agree with you. But the world is not overpopulated.

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  10. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    Let’s apply a little logic to this overpopulation business, shall we? You clearly like technology – contraception for example. So you’re not a ‘back to the trees’ merchant. Me neither – I like hot showers and dentistry, and my wife prefers that I have regular exposure to both too.

    So humans produce technology that can improve things – food production for example. But they also like having babies – with varying enthusiasm for the different stages involved – and they also like to exploit each other, often with the aid of the latest technology – weapons, for example. Finally, people tend to judge their conditions by those around them. Everyone wants to be above average, so at least half the people are going to be unhappy, especially when new technology allows most of the globe to see what the very best lifestyle can be. Evolving criteria, you see.

    So now, please offer us your definition of over-population, along with your opinion of when the world became over-populated.

    Was the mistake at the outset, when one breeding pair of humans was too many? Or would you consider the levels of starvation, malnutrition and disease in pre-historic or ancient times better than those of today? The middle ages perhaps? Later? At what point did we as a species cross the line to become over-populated? At what stage can you say that our inventiveness was finally overcome by our numbers and/or our greed?

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  11. The Raven says:

    Re overpopulation

    At risk of incurring the wrath of all parties, can I point out that the definition of “overpopulation” that seems to have been agreed upon is that there are too many people in a locality to be supported by the resources that are in that locality or that can be easily brought in.

    Taking that definition, I fail to bring to mind any place that is “overpopulated”, where the “overpopulation is the result of the locals breeding that bit too enthusiastically.

    Let’s take Toad’s example of sub-Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe is one place which is dependent on food-aid and people were, until very recently, dying of starvation (I had heard that the situation has become slightly ameliorated, but stand ready to be corrected on that point). Before the land seizures in 2000, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of food and was one of the wealthiest countries in Southern Africa (OK, not up against great competition). Ten years later, we have a fall in the population and many people hungry: the “overpopulation” of Zim was not the result of too many people, it was the result of conflict and instability.

    Similarly, the young men crowding the boats to Europe are not fleeing starvation, they are fleeing the stultifying effects of corrupt command economies, which deny them the opportunity to advance themselves in their homelands (this is why many of the migrants are from “stable” nations like Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire etc): they are not fleeing Malthusian wilderness.

    Even the great famine in Ethiopia was not down to an excessive population farming marginal land; it had far more to do with the chaos and instability brought about by the civil war and the kleptocratic Mengistu dictatorship.

    The idea that we are breeding ourselves to death ignores the fact that humanity fills the land to the extent that it is able to sustain us until something changes. Occasionally the Change will be a natural thing, like a volcano, but more often it will be conflict.

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  12. manus2 says:

    Hi Raven,

    Good points. And the young men hear about the better life in the West via all the modern media which spread (for good and ill) material desire.

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  13. toadspittle says:

    “So now, please offer us your definition of over-population, along with your opinion of when the world became over-populated.”

    Asks Manus. Joyful’s thought….

    (“But we definitely have) more people than resources (in many, many places.”)

    Works well enough for me. However, now we are, all three, I think at cross purposes, and have more in common than not.
    Whether the entire world is, or may, or may not be, ‘overpopulated’ is, for Toad, a matter of the deepest unconcern. It is an utterly abstract topic that seems to engage Catholics more than anyone else.
    Sure, we can divide the current number of bodies into the number of square miles and discover that everyone on the planet has an estate the size of Basingstoke (well, some people can, Toad can’t, because he is no good at math) to live in.
    Sure, we can always shove an extra couple or four billions into Antarctica, can’t we? Give them all gloves and wooly hats.
    And, we seem to be in agreement that certain places, for a variety of reasons, are overpopulated at present.
    And that there is gloom and misr’y everywhere. Despite God’s affection for us all.

    “Was the mistake at the outset, when one breeding pair of humans was too many?
    (Toad would affirm this. In fact, he once drew a cartoon showing a couple of monkeys up in a tree looking at ‘Adam and Eve’ and one saying, “There goes the neighbourhood.”)

    Right! That’s enough overpopulation! Back to the Pope and male prostitutes!

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  14. joyfulpapist says:

    Toad must have led a very sheltered life if he thinks it is mainly Catholics that are concerned that the world is overpopulated.

    Indeed, in my own very underpopulated country (lots of sheep, not many people), when out and about followed by a row of children, I have been accosted by strangers and told ‘Don’t you know the world is overpopulated?’ I’ve also been on the receiving end of diatribes from people who have chosen to have no children, and who think I might consider their choice selfish when – in their view – they were morally superior to me, because the world is overpopulated.

    And, to take it away from my personal experience, around the world those anxious about climate change are blaming overpopulation for the world’s woes, and praising China for its one-child policy: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7832/

    World overpopulation is a nonsense. And ‘too many people for the available resources’ describes the whole of Japan (which hasn’t been able to feed itself from its own resources for a long time), not to mention most major cities in any part of the world, and – for that matter – the average city office. The issue is not the number of people, but the movement of resources.

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  15. manus2 says:

    JP, we touched on childlessness on your website a little while ago. One of the rarely acknowledged evils lurking in the human heart is fear and loathing of other people’s children.

    Toad, you took my bait. I love the sound of your cartoon, because it illustrates the even deeper species self-loathing that some seem afflicted by: God or Nature made a mistake in producing us in the first place, and “the world” would be better off without us. You need to concoct a pretty wild mixture of purest materialism and preachiest morality to make that charge hold, and yet it seems pretty addictive these days.

    So people are told they must exercise their freedom through their sex lives, but not through having children. Which brings us back to the condom. Spare us any thoughts you have for cartoons on this topic.

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  16. kathleen says:

    A really fascinating and well researched, eye-opening article Joyful, that does a great job of dispelling the arguments of the best known anti-Catholic myths on some “unpopular” teachings! (And some subsequent insightful comments from Manus, Raven and you that clarify the usual protests.)

    Two points:
    Haven’t read the link you mention above yet, but one of the scary results on the “one child per woman policy” in China, apart from the problems of an ageing population, is the imbalance in the sexes, boys being preferred to girls. Even though the figures are not thought to be as high as originally stated (many girl babies, unregistered, being hidden away with relatives in the country so that another try for the desired BOY might be had) there are still tens of millions more males than females – that will cause unprecedented future problems – since this law was enforced.

    My mother, the proud grandmother of 14, has also just occasionally been on the receiving end of the self-righteous, indignant “greens”, who try to make out that she and her offspring are contaminating the planet by our incessant breeding!!! And that in a country with a currently decreasing population. She laughs if off, usually with the happy announcement of yet another great grandchild on the way 😉

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  17. toadspittle says:

    Oh, come on Manus!

    Even you must admit that other people’s children are frequently loathsome and fearful.
    Indeed, Toad has, at times in the distant past, thought pretty much the same about his own children, if only for a moment or two. Who has not?

    Maybe what Sartre was getting at, was that Hell is, actually, other people’s children. (Toad is just teasing.)

    Wondering whether or not the world would be ‘better off” without people, is I agree, a futile exercise. Like wondering if it would be better off without Lutherans, or The Daily Telegraph, or Tsunamis, or Morris dancing.

    As to ‘preachy morality’, well, you will get little enough of that from Toad, I hope. He leaves that to those better qualified.
    He has not led a sheltered life until quite recently, but he likes it, and intends to go on living one from now on.

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  18. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    I should have made myself more clear. Firstly, having just now hoovered the house which we share with our three teenage children, all I can say is that if fear and loathing has risen in your heart only for a moment or two during the raising of your own brood, then I think we may have found a secular saint in our midst.

    I was in fact reflecting on JP’s experience of public haranguing. Concern for the environment has facilitated the FALOOPC into a civic duty, instead of a wicked private pleasure.

    I love Satre’s Huit Clos, but if you want an actual example of other people’s children in Hell then I refer you to CS Lewis’ masterpiece The Great Divorce. It’s a slim volume, but quite magnificent. A bit like the Divine Comedy without the middle bit. And with a bus service, obviously.

    You are indeed very rarely preachy, and very kindly understated in your hint that others here might consider themselves qualified to preach. But I think we have a kinder, gentler blog here then elsewhere (quiet shudder). And even you were rather animated at the top of the column.

    A final thought on the overpopulation issue, which I’d meant to add earlier. All this talk of people and resources would be only pious hogwash if it is not matched with social teaching. The Catholic Church has a good record in promoting the welfare of immigrants. One can point to the statements in the Catechism (which interestingly come under the sections on the Fourth and Seventh Commandments) , but a much more interesting illustration concerns the Bard, no less.

    In “The Quest for Shakespeare”, Joseph Pearce explores the Bard’s Catholicism, which is a fascinating topic in its own right. But apparently, the only extensive piece of writing believed to be in his own hand comes from a controversial multi-authored play about Thomas More, which was banned by Sir Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels.

    “The lines attributed to Shakespeare depict Thomas More’s efforts to reason with a riotous mob intent on attacking recently arrived immigrants who are perceived as threatening the livelihoods of the indigenous population. His council of Christian charity calms the storm of rebellion. The crowd is appeased and declares, in unison, that he ‘says true’ and that, as good Christians echoing the words of the Gospel, they should ‘do as we may be done by’ ” p142.

    A fine tribute to More’s reputation, Shakespeare and the Christian approach to immigrants, says I. Not that the record has always lived up to the theory, alas …

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  19. toadspittle says:

    Manus,
    A kinder, gentler blog indeed. And a kind and gentle post from yourself, as ever.
    Toad must not become smug, though.

    Toad has long suspected, from reading between some of the lines, particularly the ‘sound and fury’ bit, that Shakespeare was a bit of an agnostic, to say the least.

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  20. manus2 says:

    … and who could blame him in the terrible times he lived? Still, grant us poor papists some crumbs of comfort as the academics start to knit together a deep but nuanced Catholicism for the Bard.

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  21. toadspittle says:

    But Manus, according to other posts on here, the Middle Ages were a time not even a bit terrible! And those that persist in thinking so are ‘liars’ according to some Professor, on another ‘thread,’ whose name Toad, sadly, cannot recall.

    And some research has recently been done in Toad’s neighbourhood regarding the life here in Sahagun in the Middle Ages, which was pretty vile – if one was not a monk, or a priest, or whatever. And not at all too bad, if you were.

    But Sahagun may well be an exception. So, we will not make an issue of it on here.

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  22. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    I was primarily referring to the terror of the politics of the time, especially for a closet Catholic like Hamlet, sorry Shakespeare. And of course post-Reformation, we are arguably beyond the Middle Ages anyway – the State is already asserting its rights over religion.

    It would be sad to discover that the clerics of your locale failed to live up to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience: such high minded vows that still have no secular equivalent.

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  23. The Raven says:

    Dear Toad

    Not a bit vile

    I fear a bit of journalistic licence has crept in here: all I said was to the effect of “considerably less vile than quite a few other eras that one could mention” (and yes, I was guilty of thinking narrowly in terms of Northern Europe, Italy and parts of the Byzantine empire).

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  24. toadspittle says:

    Manus:

    I’ve been brooding on Shakespeare, since your post, and found this:

    http://www.sirbacon.org/links/huxley2.htm

    I was especially interested as I’m re-reading a lot of Huxley novels right now, and The Perennial Philosophy for the first time. Interesting, for me, that Huxley also quotes the ‘sound and fury’ bit, but doesn’t seem to interpret it as I do.

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  25. manus2 says:

    Hi Toad,

    Thanks – I will peruse and comment shortly. Meanwhile, work, alas.

    Manus.

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  26. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    I have read Huxley’s piece a couple of times now, and stewed over it a bit. I find it astonishing that he should dictate this on his death-bed: that the topic of Shakespeare and religion could be so important to him; and yet what he mostly achieves is to offer piecemeal correlations between the vast range of religious expression with its counterparts in Shakespeare. Hence (presumably) his final published words: “How many kinds of religion! How many kinds of Shakespeare!”

    But the combinatorial possibilities are practically infinite, and the real steer comes from which bit of religious practice is correlated with which bits of Shakespeare. Clearly Huxley is no fan of institutionalised Christianity. But there seems no strong argument for the particular correlations that Huxley offers, beyond the undeniable perogative of the condemned man choosing his final banquet. And it is a fascinating menu he selects.

    It would be unfair to make a comparison with Pearce, blessed with the luxury of time and health to write his book. But in order to assert Shakespeare as ultimately a Catholic (albeit sophisticated, worldly, oppressed, fearful, and quite unwilling or unable to embrace a readily-available martyrdom), Pearce needs to assemble a solid array of evidence, which to me is fairly impressive, though I’ve no humanities training. But I’m not browbeating here, Toad, it’s just fascinating stuff.

    There’s some stuff available on Pearce’s book here:

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/authors/josephpearce.asp

    and apparently he’s done a series for EWTN – I don’t know whether people can acces it now.

    http://www.ewtn.com/series/2009/Shakespeare.htm

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  27. toadspittle says:

    I will follow up on Shakespeare, Manus. it’s been at the back of my mind for some time. Thanks for the links.

    I didn’t realise Huxley wrote that on his deathbed. I’m also finding The Perennial Philosophy rather too fuzzy for my taste, though it is giving me some suggestions re people like St John of the Cross and similar ‘mystics’.
    Huxley seems to (to me) have gone off the boil after ‘Eyeless in Gaza.’

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