Lucinda Murphy’s recent post on this blog is timely. It raises more questions than it answers, but that is in the nature of the subject matter.
For the moment, it might be best to leave aside those awkward moral and psychological questions about 'Would you kill X to save Y?'
Early in the morning of Sunday 19th October I received a text message from the lay reader at our Anglican parish church, who was away for the weekend.
This was unusual - what could be so urgent that she would text so early in the morning while she was on holiday? The text read:
‘Would you kill a chimpanzee to save a human?’ This was one of the questions thrown at the participants of new research carried out by sociologist Professor John Evans of the University of California.
The question asks us to delve into one of the most central and longest running debates in the history of Western thought; what does it mean to be a human? It’s that classic, ‘What am I?’, ‘Who are you?’ question; a question that has perplexed people for centuries, from the likes of Descartes to Alice in Wonderland.
On 7th November Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill will return to the House of Lords for scrutiny in committee.
On Thursday I attended a talk by Falconer on the subject. He said his Bill is deliberately restricted as he himself would not wish to go further. It only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind with a maximum of six months to live, and they have to make the decision and administer it themselves.
I was caught out. On Thursday I was giving a talk on homosexuality to a church deanery readers’ group. I expected differences of opinion, but the big sticking-point was not what I expected.
Nobody argued that intimate same-sex partnerships were immoral. That seemed fine. What was unacceptable, to those who disapproved, was the decision to change the definition of marriage. Gay and lesbian people can do what they like, as long as they do not call it marriage.