So I've been in the midst of a discussion with a planetary scientist. Well...there was this morning's discussion with Hubby about "next time will you please take my questions more seriously rather than offering cursory explanations because now I look like an a** online." Hubby takes blogging less seriously than I do. He has no idea who Jennifer Fulwiler is. He asked me why she even was talking about Br. Guy. And when I told him that there was a conference he asked me which one because he's never heard of her. Not that kind of conference dear. I believe his mind is on LPSC. It's being held this month and he's going to it. So if you plan on attending or live in Texas, I'm sure he'll be around. Will Bro. Guy be there? That's up to the Vatican.
Anyways...this is a discussion with a different planetary scientist. I know quite a few. Knee's godfather being one and Jesse (who I've mentioned watching his daughter before) is another. And I could go on about how my life is rapped up in it despite it being a small group of people. But this particular gentlemen I've never met. His background is that he's from the UK.
I'm posting this because I want to make sure of two things: Is my apologetics correct? and Was I nice about it but firm? Unlike one fellow blogger, who has eight kids, lives in my area, and I'm oh so tempted every time I troll her blog to click on her "e-mail me" link and ask her to lunch but totally feel dumb for doing so (it's that whole socially awkward thing again), I am not in the habit of tackling people's questions particularly live people who work with my husband. Most of the people who I do speak to are Protestants and it's questions about theology. But I'm being vague when you should be reading. Please ignore the typos. It was nap time. *biting my nails*
Planetary Scientist Dude Who Shall Remain Anon~
First let me say, I appreciate your interest in the subject. Hubby tells
me that you are from Great Britain (UK), and it's my understanding,
correct me if I'm wrong, that the British have very different views on
morality from Americans regardless of faith backgrounds. Hubby tells me
that in Europe violence in movies and on television is more abhorrent
than sex. In the United States we're "backwards". Sex on television is
considered bad and violence okay. I only bring this up because if this
is remotely true, you have to understand that my prospective on
American government is different than a Brit or European's feelings
about American government. This is mostly do to with American society
In addition to that, I'm a devout Catholic. This has
it's own set of moral
principals and teachings attached to it as well. I'm sure that you are
familiar with them. I bring this up as well because as an American
Catholic my views are very different than other Catholics worldwide and
from Americans who have a different faith background. In other words, I
acknowledge that the basis of my beliefs is very narrow and that the
vast majority of Americans or Catholics do not necessarily share my
feelings. And if you want to go even further than that I was raised in
Mississippi whose largest religious denomination is Southern Baptist.
So throw into the mix that I've been learning how my faith (Catholicism)
looks through the eyes of a Protestant and you have me. I have no
understanding or atheists and very little of agnostics (despite living
with one). Until I moved to Arizona, the vast majority of the people
that I knew were Conservative Protestants.
I give you all this
knowledge because I don't want you to think that I have all the answers
nor do I want you to think that I don't have any respect for you having
an opposing view point. I acknowledge that my background has made me
unfamiliar with the "other side" and so if I say something that's wrong,
please feel free to correct me. I consider this dialogue to be one of
openness and friendship, an exchange of ideas rather than trying to
change another person's mind.
"1. Do you believe that as an objector to the Iraq invasion, I should
have been exempt from paying taxes towards the enormous costs of that
You are an objector too! Nice to meet you. Catholicism has
what's called "Just War Theory." It's long and complicated and it's
better if you googled it then me taking what can be written into a book
to explain it. Basically the jest of it is that Catholics are not
conscientious objectors in the Amish or 7th Day Adventist sense. We
believe that war engaged in to protect the innocent and to maintain the
freedoms and rights and boundaries of a country is okay if diplomacy has
not worked out. One could say that Just War Theory applies to WWII,
but in my opinion (and is the feeling of the previous and current Pope
although there is no official Vatican stance) that the Iraq Invasion
does not follow Just War Theory.
But you asked about a tax
exemption. Yes, I wish there was one. The only thing I can do as an
American is contact my representatives and try to introduce a bill that
would make it a law
to have an exemption or ask the President to change federal tax code
and the governor to change state tax code. The American government is a
complicated one, and while many objectors and Catholics alike work
behind the scenes to shape it, this isn't generally known by the
American public because the mainstream media doesn't cover it.
for you, a British national, living and working in the United States,
you haven't much say over American politics with your vote. I haven't
got any say over where my taxes, should I live and work in Britain, go
either. It's just how things are.
"Or as someone who is
concerned about the effects of CO2 emmissions on climate change, should I
be forced to pay taxes towards subsidising the oil industry (which the
government currently does)?"
Again yes, I think you should have an
exception. The problem with exceptions, however, is that at some point
all citizens could claim exemption for everything and end up living off
the government (taxes pay for road repairs if nothing else) without
contributing to the system. The way government works is that the
majority have a say and the rest of us must abide.
A lot of
people bring the notion of "well, where does it end" with the HHS
mandate and religious freedom. The difference between Europe and Canada
versus the United States is that we do not guarantee health care and
it's not really a part of how the system is designed. PBS has a good
documentary on looking at health care. If you're interested, I can go
dig it up for you. The United States, however, does guarantee the right
to religious freedom. The Constitution says that government shall not
(unlike England's official church) nor shall it inhibit the practice
thereof. This means that you can't force a conscientious objector to
fight in a battle simply because they are drafted. You can't force an
underage Amish girl to go to school even if the state says you must
until age 18. You can't force a Jew to serve pork or a Jehovah's
witness to receive a blood transfusion. Nor can you force a Catholic
charity or school to provide contraceptive coverage because a large
percentage of Catholic charities and schools insure themselves. That is
they are the underwriters of the insurance policy and the faithful who
tithe would be paying for someone else's birth control.
there are limitations, polygamy is not allowed. However, it may
interest you to know that a gentlemen is bringing this issue up before
the Supreme Court, who ultimately interprets the Constitution.
"2. Specifically on the condoms issue, I strongly believe that
couples SHOULD be encouraged to use condoms, for ethical and moral
reasons connected to the dangers of population growth and the spread of
It's a common misconception that the reason behind population
growth has to do with the number of children born. This is incorrect.
The reason for the population growth is because of the large growing
elderly population. Because of health care, the average life expectancy
has made the population increase. The actual number of births and
infant mortality has decreased. Some populations aren't sustainable in
the next 20 or so years simply because they do not have enough children
being born. Germany, for example, is actually paying women to give
birth and stay home because the government has concerns that there won't
be enough citizens. Once the aged population passes away, the
population will actually decrease. No one is sure when the population
will peek and at what number, but it will.
For more information on the myth, http://overpopulationisamyth.com/. For a less biased
As for AIDS
protection, condoms do help, but they aren't 100 percent affective.
They have a failure rate which some say is as low as 86 percent. That
and the fact that the reason for wide spread HIV and AIDS these days is
due to multiple sex partners and lack of education on how it's spread.
In African nations who have decided to take an abstinence only, wait
until marriage stance, the rate of HIV infection has decreased.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS_in_Uganda In places like South
African where condom usage is promoted, the rate of HIV infection has
Then of course, Catholics can practice NFP
(Natural Family Planning) which doesn't use any kind of prophylactics
or pills but rather the woman's natural fertility/infertility cycle.
When using NFP a person discerns whether or not a child in the
environment/situation they are in is
warranted. From our view point, God creates life. To hinder His will
by using something unnatural, that He didn't create, is playing God and
"In which case, is it fair that I pay taxes towards supporting the
extra number of children that non-condom using families tend to produce?"
not sure how to respond to that statement as I'm not sure what you
define as "extra number of children." From a Catholic Christians point
of view, children are precious and gifts from God. They are not burdens
nor burdens on society since at some point I expect my children,
however many God blesses me with, to be tax paying citizens of the world
who seek to help others in need. Being that we are Americans, we have
much to give and I expect then to alleviate the suffering of poverty,
not add to it.
"Why should I pay towards the extra education and health costs incurred
by large families when their moral position on contraception is abhorent
Simple economics, we need people to run the world and take
care of the elderly. If society does not have children, when the aged
population can no longer take care of itself, there will be no doctors,
no hospital workers, no hospice, no elder care. There will be no one
tilling the fields, or baking food. There will be no one to produce
textiles. etc. etc. In order for these things to happen, we need to
educate our young and keep them healthy so that in turn, one day they
will help us when we can no longer do so. And as I said, the birth rate
is decreasing and has been since the 1950s. Large families, however
you may define, then are needed especially if more and more people
choose to defer marriage or not to have children at all.
"3. And if exemptions were made on these (and other issues), how would it
work? Should there be "opt-out" boxes that you can tick on your tax
return? My bet is that if there were, everyone would tick all of them,
the government would be out of pocket and would have to raise taxes,
and we'd be back to where we started."
I'll refer you back to my statements about government and the differences between British society and American society.
"I hope these questions don't sound aggressive in any sort of way: I'd genuinely be interested in hearing what she thinks." (he had Hubby forward the letter. Hubby had is own responses if you are interested I will post those, but it's not relevant to my questions.)
No, they aren't at all aggressive. I grew up in the Bible Belt South.
I've heard people spout of misconceptions about Catholicism to which I
pointed out where wrong, but they refused to believe me. It was if they
thought that I was somehow misinformed about my own belief system.
That frustrates me more than open dialogue. We are talking about
philosophy and politics of which there are no straightforward answers.
The point of dialogue, in my opinion, is to learn and to try to find
something that is amenable. Without such dialogue, we would be looking
for society's morality within ourselves, which
is no good. Plus, I've heard and attempted to answer these questions
before. Do I expect you to agree with me? No, that would be silly. I
certainly hope that you don't expect me to agree with you either. I do,
however, expect that you are now more informed of where I come from and
a little bit as to why. That is better than the those challenging
Protestants. Otherwise the information you're receiving is 2nd hand and
liable to be incorrect. Thank you for taking the time to try to
understand. I appreciate it.
It wasn't all that bad was it? I could have drowned him in a wealth of information, spouted off a lot of Catholic doctrine/Biblical references, but I felt I should approach it from a more secular angle where I'm supporting my position rather than a more aggressive tactic. I don't know this person after all.
He hasn't responded yet, but said that he would at some point. I think I gave him much to chew on.
BTW, if Hubby thinks I've violated his privacy. I assure you most of these bloggers have seen/heard this all before. He's not asking anything new and he's not divulging anything about himself that's too personal (at this point anyway).