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Posts Tagged ‘lying’

I found a perfect encore to my recent reference to the scandalous ponzi scam of Bernard Madoff: Natalie Angier of the New York Times recently described evidence that deceitful behaviour is a product of evolution:

Deceitful behavior has a long and storied history in the evolution of social life, and the more sophisticated the animal, it seems, the more commonplace the con games, the more cunning their contours.

In a comparative survey of primate behavior, Richard Byrne and Nadia Corp of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found a direct relationship between sneakiness and brain size. The larger the average volume of a primate species’ neocortex — the newest, “highest” region of the brain — the greater the chance that the monkey or ape would pull a stunt like this one described in The New Scientist: a young baboon being chased by an enraged mother intent on punishment suddenly stopped in midpursuit, stood up and began scanning the horizon intently, an act that conveniently distracted the entire baboon troop into preparing for nonexistent intruders.

Biologists distinguish between such cases of innate or automatic deception, however, and so-called tactical deception, the use of a normal behavior in a novel situation, with the express purpose of misleading an observer. Tactical deception requires considerable behavioral suppleness, which is why it’s most often observed in the brainiest animals.

See more of this fascinating take here.

So lying Madoff was no low-life scum–he was the worst and best example of human development.

For me this begs the larger question: if deceit is an ability gained through evolution, then honesty is a primitive attribute? If so does this place evolution on a moral compass? We are evolving to a propensity for less ethical or immoral behaviour?

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Sounds, bad doesn’t it. Isn’t lying a sin. But tell me, would you in order to prevent scandal? Is lying for a supposedly good cause considered a sin? And is this really a good cause?

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/26/local/me-priest26

Catholic doctrine is cited in priest sex abuse cases

Note This article includes corrections to the original version.

An elderly nun, under questioning by a lawyer, recently said she could remember almost nothing about his client, a child who had been sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest.

Lawyer Irwin Zalkin was puzzled because church records showed she had heard several complaints about the San Diego priest, and the file noted that she had reported them to higher authority.

Finally, Zalkin asked whether she was familiar with “mental reservation” – a 700-year-old doctrine by which clerics may avoid telling the truth to protect the Catholic Church.

She explained in her own way that it is ‘to protect the church from scandal.’ She said she subscribed to the doctrine,” Zalkin said. What are you going to do?”

Mental reservation is not sanctioned in canon law, experts say, and is infrequently invoked. But in litigation arising from clergy sex abuse cases in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, at least half a dozen lawyers representing victims report having encountered it.

When is a lie a lie? Some say, as long as someone does not speak the truth, then it is a lie. Others assume, that when a lie is told, there is always bad intentions involved, hence if a person lies with good intentions, it is no longer a lie. The problem is, some people always convince themselves to have good intentions. Some people live in a world of delusion and manage to rationalize that they are good when in actuality they are selfish and deceitful. In a world where the biggest religion preaches on love and puts little emphasis on truth, people will inevitably try to justify their actions by saying that they did it out of love. In the above case, lying may be justified by the person for the love of his religion and his God.

As said in the quoted article, ” Mental reservation is not sanctioned in canon law”. But exactly what is sanctioned by canon law and what is absolutely true? Some Catholics have stated “dogmas” are absolute, and others “doctrines”. And what are exactly the list of dogmas and doctrines? The status of mental reservation is thus in limbo, and yet its vague status has allowed a person to actually lie under oath as seen by the above quote. How many others have possibly lied and how many others will. Actually, if you believe in mental reservation, what can prevent you from lying when asked “do you follow the doctrine of mental reservation”. You could always lie again and say that you don’t.

To put a stop to all this nonsense, if the Catholics are indeed against this usage in a court of law, they should make an official appeal to all Catholics that lying under oath is a sin. Why don’t they?

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