Questions raised by the Neon Roberts case

According to the BBC news the judge in the Neon Roberts said doctors accepted that radiotherapy had side effects: it could slightly impair intellect and carried some risks of causing infertility but most children coped well – and there would be no quality of life at all if you were dead.  At first this sounds very logical, but it seems to me that it reflects a very irrational view of life and death that has perhaps come to be accepted without thinking.

It assumes that there is no life after death, that the value of life is only the short period of life on earth, and it assumes that the only value in life is the quality of life of the individual.

This is a self-centred worldview, a Darwinian view that each individual is only important to himself and consequences for others are secondary.  The essence of humanity is lost.  All of Christ’s teaching about loving one’s neighbour is ignored.

If there is no life after death (the secular view) then a dead person no longer exists and it does not matter to them whether they are alive or dead.  Almost all religions view our spiritual being as continuing to exist after physical death.  If that is the case, then the quality of spiritual life continues after death, and again we should not fear death.

In each case, the impact of death is on those who remain behind; on those who miss the person who had died.  That is indeed a serious impact, but I wonder if it is something that institutions such as courts are best placed to decide on – they are not the ones left to pick up the pieces.

About Minimalist Christian

Phil Hemsley is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. He works for a multinational company in the power industry, has presented technical papers at international conferences and holds many patents. He has published two books, the most recent is "The Big Picture, an Honest Examination of God Science and Purpose". He has lived on both sides of the faith fence. He is married, with two daughters.
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12 Responses to Questions raised by the Neon Roberts case

  1. John Gurnett says:

    So Phil ….are you saying that this was a righ decision or a wrong one – and who then should decide for or against surgery – the father having opted for and the mother against..?


  2. Anonymous says:

    He seems to be saying “let Neon die” as his quality of life will not be interupted by being dead.


  3. John, I’m not making a judgement on the particular case, but the assumptions that were inherent in the judges decision.


    • John Gurnett says:

      The question is with or without God…..quality of life after death is severely diminished without him….


      • Good point, but without God, and if this life is all there is, then it wouldn’t matter to Neon when he’s dead. Without God, his, and all of our lives would be as meaningful as the last football game between Chelsea and Sunderland.


        • John Gurnett says:

          …while there is life on earth there is stil hope of someone finding God whether physically / mentally impaired or not therefore giving value to it – then when God is discovered there is still more to find, so life on earth is always to be valued and treated as precious with or without God….


          • So the secular worldview would say ‘let him die’ but the worldview you describe would say ‘let him live’. Interesting points!


            • John Gurnett says:

              I don’t think that the secular world view is saying let him die – rather let’s take every opportunity to prolong life through needed surgery even though there’s a relatively small risk of long term deterioration – which is inevitable anyway….


            • I agree that’s what they are saying. But in my view it is purely based on feelings of empathy rather than reason. We should beware of deciding things just on feelings. (I recently read ‘The Sea Wolf’ which I found admirably describes the rational secular view of life and death in the character of Wolf Larson. Some fun sailing bits in it too…)


            • John Gurnett says:

              The judge’s decision sounded pretty logical to me…….

              Backing NHS doctors and her estranged husband Ben Roberts, the judge ruled that radiotherapy treatment must proceed immediately in order to give Neon the best chance of surviving his brain tumour. The judge said that doctors had advised that the treatment had a success rate of “at least” 80 per cent and was sometimes as high as 86 per cent. He added that doctors had advised that Britain and France were two of the leading countries for cancer treatment and that if people “shopped elsewhere” for opinion they were “doing their child a disservice”.

              In his judgement, he concluded that alternative treatments were not in Neon’s best interests and not a viable choice for doctors at the “centre for excellence” where he is being treated.


  4. Anonymous says:

    He said no such thing. You seem to be the king of the non sequitur when it comes to promoting your religion


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