Life is not precious. It is the thoughts and the actions that come from the thinking of that which is alive that have the potential to be precious.

This fact should be at the heart of all our discussions regarding birth control and euthanasia rather than the sanctity of life per se.

Life itself has no worth. It is without value. Our actions, which are informed by our thoughts, alone have value - all our actions. Therefore, we should be mindful to train our thoughts to produce actions of positive value rather than negative value.

We are justified by our actions and our actions are justified by our belief (however you may define it) in God. This is because God is that against which our actions are valued at the same time as being that which values our actions.



  1. Viderepercipere, the Monty Python clip reminded me of a suggestion my brother (may he rest in peace) once made to me. He suggested that I show up at a counter-demonstration at a local womens center with a sign that read, “Menstruation is Murder.” I told him I doubted the fundies on the other side of the road would get the point.

  2. So people who don’t think as well as others have less value or worth? People who are unable to make an active contribution to society are without value? People who don’t believe in God and base their actions in that belief are completely unjustified?

    Sorry, I can’t swallow that.

  3. Song. I think you are replying to the wrong post because your comment has absolutely nothing to do with the words I wrote. In fact you seem to have read the complete opposite of what I actually wrote.

  4. I would have thought that life consists of thought and action and is indistinguishable from those things. You can’t have one without the others. Even plants think, in the sense that they are continually responding to their environment. The brain of a person in a coma is still sending out messages to the body and performing actions – just not at full capacity.

    But this a) may depend on how you define thought and b) may well have no bearing whatsoever on the basic point of MP’s argument.

  5. OK, this puzzles me. I read it the same as Song–that life ITSELF is of no value, only actions are of value, which would seem to indicate that someone who is “alive” but not acting is not of value, and also that only “positive” actions are of value. You also note that God is that which places value on actions? Which is problematic since humans tend to guess God’s values and one person’s “positive” action may be another person’s “negative” one. Please enlighten.

  6. A similar view was expressed by the late Ivan Illich, who among other things was a Roman Catholic priest. He argued that the current RC theology of the absolute sanctity of (physical) life is utterly wrong. What Jesus came to offer us was “life, and that abundantly” — but that didn’t and doesn’t mean biological existence, rather it means resurrection life (in the here and now). The “Life” that is held up by the RC hierarchy and their allies in other conservative churches in these debates is not even ‘real life’, embodied life, but an abstraction, the complete opposite of a life grounded in the body and in Incarnational theology. This theology of “Life” is thus idolatrous and a complete corruption of the Gospel. It does not lead to that Life Abundant which our Lord means us to have.

    This of course was the sort of writing and teaching that got him called to Rome and told to shut up.

  7. MP, I’m sorry if I’ve misunderstood.

    If we say God values our actions over and above the mere physical fact of our being alive, it is very easy to make the jump to judging for ourselves whether someone’s life has value. For some reason on first reading I thought you’d made that very jump…personally I think that the value or worth of another human being is not within our knowledge. I think we can discern some of God’s will but I don’t think we can really understand all of it.

    I am quite strongly pro-choice when it comes to birth control (including abortion) and euthanasia. But the arguments about the possible potential of an unborn child, or for a miracle cure for someone terminally ill, are important. In a theist framework I think these issues often come down to a question about whether someone’s potential actions (or perhaps just continued existence in life as we know it) are so valuable in God’s eyes that they outweigh any suffering.

    Again, I don’t think that’s within our knowledge… but we can’t usefully live our entire lives so focused on the “what if?” of the future that we ignore what we do know. Instead we have to take calculated risks based on the information we do have.

    Some would argue that because I believe in universal salvation and God’s unconditional love for us, the stakes are lower for me. Perhaps that is so… I don’t think so but am not really up to explaining why as it isn’t clear.

    Apt, then, that the word verification is “nograve”.

  8. No. My thought is far simpler than what you think it is, Song. I am saying that life without thought is not precious because we are our thoughts and actions. So, if we could work out what life has thought (sentient thought not mechanical thought) we should base ethical decisions on that not on the wrongheaded, illogical concept that life is precious other than for its non-sentient function. Obviously this means that contraception, including the morning after pill, and abortions up to the point of sentiency, should be regarded as no different to tearing a weed out of a vegetable patch.

    But the bottom line for a Christ centred Christian like myself is that Jesus believed that a righteous person would be treated as having more worth than an unrighteous person. You could argue that God loves all the same, but that is a different thing to valuing all people the same.

  9. What Mary Clara said. Good show!

    Oh look. Church hierarchy misunderstands something crucial and makes a big, idolatrous mess out of it. Surprise, surprise…