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Ethical Dilemmas

By Carl S ~

“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him. Choose one.” ― Saul Bellow, Herzog

The physician's ethical dilemma: Should the doctor tell a terminal patient the prognosis indicates she has not long to live? Or should the doctor lead her to believe she will eventually recover, in order to allay her fears and/or, tell her what she desires to hear?

What about someone YOU care about who is struggling in a crisis of eroding faith? Should you tell her lies to make her feel comforted, or should you share what you know and be honest? Should you allow the person taking the slow-acting poison of beliefs to continue, because the person believes it's a cure?

Should you tell someone truths when that person is CONTENT with believing lies? When that person PREFERS to believe lies? When the person FEARS to question the lies?

SUPPOSE someone feels “special, being chosen by God” through a Cleric or Prophet? Should you tell that person, “You're not 'chosen' - you’re just gullible?” It might keep someone from joining a cult.

Should you tell the truth when a person begins to suspect what she has accepted as truths, are lies? OR, should you patiently WAIT and gradually accustom this person to the truths, so that she eventually concludes what she has been accustomed to believe as truths, may really be lies? EVEN IF this means the person comes to believe she came to the conclusions entirely on her own?

WHAT IF you yourself have the whole jigsaw picture, and you feed the pieces, one-by-one, to the person, until he or she “gets the picture?” What if you realize that when you were a believer yourself (as one of our contributors mentioned), you were using the wrong picture? Are you prepared to accept, even then: this person doesn't WANT the picture?

Would it be wise to point out that, whenever faith is involved, one man's truth is another man's falsehood?Should you keep your mouth shut every time someone quotes, with absolute authority, from a book that constantly contradicts itself? You don't want to appear to agree with them, lest they continue to be wise in their own conceit. Would it be wise to point out that, whenever faith is involved, one man's truth is another man's falsehood?

To be or not to be, outspoken? Outspoken is to be vulnerable, but also to learn. “To be nobody – but – yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” e.e. Cummings “I doubt, therefore I think. I think, therefore I am dangerous.” - me.

What is MORE important, beliefs or life? Believers have a dilemma with this. The thinking nonbeliever has no problem deciding. It is the faith which must die. In my writings, I've put out something as bait, waiting for a response: I claimed that believers maintain faith is more important than life itself. No one has contradicted me. This is appalling. What have already been the consequences from such faith?

WHAT IF a sincere believer decides to kill his or her family, or a community commits suicide, as a result of believing their living on means they will abandon their faith and, as a result, will ALL be damned for eternity? Should I give up questioning why they believe this, hoping in the future that others with this dilemma will think through it and decide on a life-enhancing, not life- ending, solution?

Isn't it unethical, teaching children to believe that no matter how bad their actions may be, they will be forgiven? Ethically, shouldn't they be taught responsibility of not making excuses for their bad behavior?

Religious beliefs create ethical minefields for us, indifferent to religion but finding ourselves having to cross them, despite our best efforts to avoid them. There could be ethical “duds” mixed with those live mines, but you can't be sure of that. It can be a tricky and sensitive place, ready to explode with the lightest touch of reality.