Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I'm going to comment on an article by apostate atheist Hector Avalos:

Avalos uses the Senate "torture" report as a pretext to bash Christians. 

Muslim-Christian relations took another painful turn when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released in December its report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program. 

Considering the fact that Muslim regimes routinely torture Muslims, why should our treatment of illegal Muslim combatants bother them? Moreover, Muslim regimes engage in classic torture, not the borderline cases cited by critics of US policy. 

Then there was “forced rectal feeding,” which the CIA said was “medically necessary” for those refusing to eat. 

I) One problem is that critics of "torture" routinely fail to distinguish between interrogation and prisoner abuse. 

ii) In addition, this was force-feeding in response to a hunger strike. It wasn't about interrogation. 

So this is really an issue about the ethics of force-feeding. If a prisoner goes on a hunger strike, should he be force-fed, or should he be allowed to commit suicide in captivity? That's a separate ethical issue unto itself.

iii) From what I've read, proctoclysis is, in fact, a legitimate medical procedure. It's my understanding that this a fairly quaint medical procedure. It's not the sort of thing that a modern, well-equipped hospital would normally use. But it's something that a medical missionary in a Third World backwater might have to resort to. According to UpToDate (a standard medical resource):

[P]roctoclysis can be a safe and effective technique for patients who need parenteral hydration, have no tumor-related involvement of the colon, and are unable to receive fluid hydration by other routes as a result of either contraindications or lack of resources. Proctoclysis involves minimal cost, does not need any sterile device or manipulation, and can be implemented intermittently over four hours infusions by non-professionals in the home, particularly when family members can be involved in the delivery of physical care. Its greatest potential application may lie in developing countries or rural areas where there is no access to health care workers capable of starting and maintaining an intravenous or subcutaneous infusion, and where access to sterile needles, fluids, and tubing may be too expensive.

I think men have a natural aversion to anyone messing with that part of their anatomy. Hence all the jokes about proctology. 

And I think that instinctive revulsion comes into play when they read about the "torture" report. 

However, I doubt medical professionals (doctors, nurses) would bat an eye. They have to perform a number of routine procedures involving that unglamorous part of the anatomy.

I also think that women are more down to earth than men in some respects while men are more down to earth than women in other respects. 

Religion also inserts itself into the issue in other ways. Shortly after the publication of the Report, the Washington Post and ABC News conducted a poll on America’s attitude toward torture.
That poll found that 69 percent of white Evangelical Protestants and 68 percent of white Catholics found torture “justified”, whether “sometimes” or “often.” By comparison 40 percent of those with “no religion” found torture justified whether it was sometimes or often.
About 32 percent of those with no religion said that torture was “never justified” compared to only 11 percent of white evangelical protestants, 21 percent of white non-evangelical protestants, and 12 percent of white Catholics.
i) Given the fact that Avalos is an avowed moral relativist, his disapproval is incoherent. He summarily disqualifies himself from rendering value-judgments.
ii) Some atheists consider torture to be morally permissible or even obligatory under special circumstances. For instance: 
Part of the reason for the disparity between Christian and non-religious attitudes toward torture is that Christianity and torture have a lengthy dolorous history.
Secularism and torture have a lengthy dolorous history. To take just one example, consider the Red Terror under Trotsky and Lenin.
Some Christians who support torture note that the Bible sometimes accepts it. For example, Exodus 21:20-21 (RSV) states: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.”
i) That's not torture.
ii) I've discussed that text:
According to Revelation 9:3-6 (RSV), the author envisioned creatures that would harm “only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; they were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion, when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will fly from them.”
That takes place in a vision. 
The whole concept of hell is premised on the idea that it is justified to torture people eternally for displeasing the biblical god. 
Only if you assume that hell is a torture chamber. And it's for more than "displeasing" God.
The so-called Inquisition deployed horrific techniques against heretics.
That reflects a number of errors in Roman Catholic theology. I'm not Catholic. 
America is asking itself anew what ends will justify the means, and it is contemplating whether what is biblically, religiously, or legally acceptable is also moral.
For now, the fact that so many Christians in America accept the torture of Muslims, who believe that they are defending their faith, may only fuel the jihadists’ belief that they are in the midst of a Christian-Muslim war.
He's imputing his own definition of "torture" to Christians, then acting as if they agree on his definition. 

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