Desmond Clarke, an emeritus professor of philosophy at University College Cork, explains why religious moral certainty is out of place in discussions of abortion law. In particular, he says that
those who are absolutely certain about their ethical views – which are evidently not shared by many others – should reflect on the source and certainty of their convictions.
Those who do so reflect and do so independently of religion tend to bump up against some version of the harm principle. First do no harm. That’s the core of the little list I drew up the other day – don’t do genocide, don’t push children into traffic, that kind of thing. There are complications, but my point was that you can make the claims short enough and obvious enough that it’s difficult to be skeptical about them – at least I think it is. Except for people with broken empathy, which is why I made an exception for psychopaths.
Archbishop Eamon Martin spoke recently about Catholics “putting faith into practice” and not leaving “our faith ‘outside the room’” when they discuss legislation. No one can argue with faith. The history of religions shows that sects have held the most irrational and misogynistic beliefs, and have attributed them to a god.
And attributing them to a god means getting to go around the normal inhibitions on violence and cruelty, and doing so with a clear conscience.
Of course, non-religious people have held equally implausible beliefs, but they cannot protect them from examination by appealing to faith.
I’m not sure we know that. I’m not sure it’s true that non-religious people really have held equally implausible beliefs.
But that’s a quibble. It’s the second part that matters. That’s the point we ended Does God Hate Women? with – that that’s how religion makes misogyny much harder to address and get rid of – it sanctifies it and shields it.