[extropy-chat] RE: In defense of moral relativism

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed May 4 20:28:51 UTC 2005

--- John-C-Wright at sff.net wrote:
> Adrian Tymes writes: "But even the Pope is imperfect - it has been
> demonstrated
> beyond reasonable doubt that previous Popes have been in error at
> times, and
> even the Catholic Church has acknowledged this by apologizing for
> said errors -
> therefore the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility is itself
> immoral: it
> allows mistakes and misjudgements to be hardened into unyielding
> evils merely
> because a certain person made them."
> This statement is not quite accurate. 
> The doctrine of Papal infallability is not that Popes do not err: the
> doctrine
> says that in matters of faith and morals, the Pope has the last word
> in
> resolving legitimate disputes within the Church. Those within the
> Church believe
> that the Church, and the Pope when he acts on her behalf, are guided
> by the Holy
> Spirit. 

That is correct, but it's close enough as makes no difference in
practice - or, at least, in my own experiences with members of the
Catholic Church, when the issue has mattered.  True, a Catholic who
wishes to act against papal doctrine is usually physically free to do
so - at the risk of expulsion from the church, and the social support
network it provides (which, while not tangible, is a real enough price
to by itself encourage many to stay with the church).

Pronouncements made by man can always be questioned - although in
certain cases it might be temporarily impractical to do so.
Pronouncements made by God?  That's why, for instance, dietary
restrictions that were appropriate for a certain environment about 2000
years ago are today religiously followed in environments where they
make no sense.  And then there's the little matter of dealing with
discoveries of better ways to be, ones that might seem scary - and
tempt some to say that God is against them - until people get used to
them...ways like, say, how to become a posthuman.

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