Skip to comments.More empirical confirmation
Posted on 01/28/2006 4:57:33 PM PST by lastchance
Almost as a matter of principle, theological debates are insusceptible of empirical resolution. Theres no scientific test to determine whether God is really three persons in one, for example, or whether salvation really comes through faith alone. Some Catholic thinkers, however, believe there is a growing body of empirical confirmation for at least one aspect of church teaching, which is Paul VIs 1968 assertion in Humanae Vitae on the immorality of separating the unitive and procreative functions of marriage. The toxic consequences of rewriting traditional concepts of marriage and the family, they believe, are grimly evident in the current demographic implosion in Europe. The lowest fertility rates in human history are being recorded in such traditional Catholic strongholds as Spain and Italy, around 1.2 live births for every 1,000 females of child-bearing age. (Replacement level, the number of births required to maintain a stable population, is generally reckoned to be 2.1). Continent-wide, the fertility rate hovers around 1.5, meaning that without immigration from other parts of the world, Europe would actually be de-populating. This demographic crisis took center stage in discussions at a conference on The Family in the New Economy: Reflections on the Margins on Centesimus Annus sponsored by the Acton Institute Jan. 21 at the North American College, the American seminary in Rome. Centesimus Annus is John Paul IIs 1991 social encyclical. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was the keynote speaker. Lopez Trujillo warned against a privatized, atomized view of the family, which focuses only on the rights and freedoms of individuals rather than the family unit as such. In that context, for example, he opposed the push for legal recognition of de facto, but unmarried, couples. Especially in light of the demographic challenges of Europe, Lopez Trujillo argued that an investment in the family is smart economic policy. A great historical failure of our day is to forget the human capital and the economic importance of the work of mothers, he said. Jennifer Roback Morse, a senior fellow at the Acton Institute, argued that the population implosion in Europe illustrates the failure of what she called Western European Socialism. This is a population decline on the scale of the Black Death, with serious economic ramifications, Roback Morse warned. [She] said that a social welfare state marginalizes marriage by reducing the dependence of elderly people upon their children, and women upon their husbands. Children become a consumption good, an optional lifestyle appendage, she said. Roback Morse suggested that it is almost impossible to reverse fertility declines through expanded social benefits for families, noting that countries that have tried have seen only marginal increases in birth rates after pouring large amounts of resources into the effort. Instead, she said, it is the entire social welfare model that must be re-thought. Islam adds to the urgency of solving the problem, she warned. Europe is importing workers it cant assimilate, and who reproduce rapidly Islam may win for this reason.
Bumping this to get some commentary going, but I have to say the author could use a logic course. It may well be true that it is always immoral to separate the unitive and procreative elements of sex. Indeed, volumes have been written on it. It may well be true that birthrates have fallen precipitously among non-muslims (and apparently is true in Europe, though not necessarily elsewhere). And the separation of the procreative and unitive aspects of sex may well be a factor in some regions - probably is, in fact.
Nevertheless, effect B (lower birthrate in Europe) is not "empirical" proof of premise A (the immorality of, for example, contraception), because if every couple banged out three kids THEN practiced contraception, the argument falls apart. Yes, it may still be immoral (count me in among post-1930 Protestants in this regard, though), but there are much better arguments for this premise than the "empirical" evidence cited. The author would be better off simply arguing that "we need more kids" based upon the data provided.
Just realized you re-posted with paragraphs. I'll re-post my comments there (pre-paragraphed).
Link to the new thread:
That might be considered a safe statement. Evidence that one could take as supporting the thesis that the teaching is "a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation." Not conclusive in and of itself but evidence to be considered.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Edition, 1989), empiric is derived from the ancient Greek for experience, which is ultimately derived from 'in' + ' trial', experiment. Therefore, empirical data is information that is derived from the trials and errors of experience. In this way, the empirical method is similar to the experimental method. However, an essential difference is that in an experiment the different "trials" are strictly manipulated so that an inference can be made as to causation of the observed change that results. This contrasts with the empirical method of aggregating naturally occurring data. (From Wikipedia, the Greek letters got garbled in the cut and paste so I edited them out.)
Given the tenor of the times in 1968 and the clamor about the population explosion, it seems doubtful any but the most far-sighted would have predicted a population implosion resulting from the wide-spread breakdown in the understanding of the nature of marriage. Although a consideration of the birth patterns and marital practices of the Romans during the twilight of the Empire in the West might have been a clue.
It's an interesting document:
The sidebar moderator pulled my second post. Which I do understand but I would rather he had pulled the one that I messed up. I had not realized that the paragraphs in the article would not transfer over to my post. I am very sorry for the confusion that caused. Next time I promise to do better.
Actually, it's not too bad. But, this is your last chance, lastchance! :-)