Citation needed

Standard wikipedia joke. See how the meme spreads. Anyway:

I was listening to the renta-Odone, followed by the renta-Bishop, on R4 this morning after C4 last night broadcast a programme on assisted suicide. Everyone said all the obvious things all over again so it was a bit dull, but what I was struck by was the Bish’s words were all his personal opinion, and social conventions. There was no religious grounding there at all. At no point did he say “well our source text, chapter X, verse Y, specifically states that…”, and I presume thats (a) because his source text is (entirely?) silent on the issue, and perhaps (b) because he doesn’t much care what his source text says; thats not really where the C of E comes from in these days. As I understand it, the prohibition on suicide in christianity largely arises from the problem that life here on earth can be pretty grim (and was far far grimmer for a peasant in the old days), whereas those who believe get to live in paradise after death; so obviously you need a rule to stop people topping themselves (some extreme radical muslims seem to have solved that one recently, to our cost). Naturally enough the Bish can’t say that, so he is reduced to waffle.

7 thoughts on “Citation needed”

  1. I heard Bishop Conti up against Margo MacDonald at the weekend and it was, as you say, the predictable “God wants this” and “God wants that”. As you say though, never a citation in sight, just a “because I say he does and I wear a funny hat”.


  2. You’ve noticed.
    A year or so ago I came across, in the Guardian an interview with the then Bishop of Edinburgh. His view of the Bible story was that it is “an enjoyable poetic and metaphorical narrative”.
    If you want quotes look forward to your next visit from Jehovas Witnesses. They’re good.


  3. Raymond’s probably right, but it doesn’t matter all that much, does it? When christians stress the texts they get called fundamentalists, so when they choose not to it seems a little hard to call them woolly

    [Does it matter? Hard to say. Its their religion, not mine. I’d rather they based their religion on sacred text rather than personal opinion, but that always proves rather hard to do – texts always contain such inconvenient things, like “thou shalt not kill”, which need to be worked around if you’re going to be a religion in any position of power. In which case the religion just becomes a matter of the social mores of their group, and all I’m left doing is complaining that they call it “religion” -W]

    BTW, I think teh shpw was on a sky channel, not C4


  4. I think the most oft quoted passage from Bible against suicide is from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” There are various references within the Bible that suggest we should not “violate the Temple of God.” The Corinthians 6 argument is strained though, because in the verses just antecedent they discuss sexual immorality, not suicide. Beside that, of course, is “Thou shalt not kill,” which some have interpreted to include one’s self. The problems Christians encounter is that suicide is usually morally justified. Interestingly, while the Bible does not specifically condemn suicide, the Qur’an does.

    [The problem is that the quote you give is clearly ambiguous; its *interpreted* to mean no suicide, but that is really nothing more than a matter of church history. I could see it used to justify slavery, in a different society. Meanwhile, “thou shalt not kill” is utterly unambiguous, but so inconvenient to any church in power that it has to be weaselled out of to permit soldiers killing people. The URL Raymond posted was good.

    Funnily enough, I’m in the middle of Russells history of philosophy, which is covering the development of this theory in an incidental way. I still stick with my theory for the true cause -W]


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