Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Social Justice
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

View Poll Results: As a Catholic, What do you think about the bombing of Hiroshima?
Morally Wrong 180 61.43%
We had to it 113 38.57%
Voters: 293. You may not vote on this poll

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #61  
Old Jun 27, '11, 1:57 pm
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

For his entire life, Harry Truman remained convinced of the correctness of his decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1958, after he repeated this conviction to a television reported, the Hiroshima city council drafted a resolution deploring his comments, and sent it to him at his home in Independence, Mo.

Mr. Truman wrote the council a reply, which can be found here, along with the original resolution.
  #62  
Old Jun 27, '11, 3:02 pm
Ghosty Ghosty is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 3, 2004
Posts: 8,388
Religion: transferring to the Melkite Church
Send a message via MSN to Ghosty Send a message via Yahoo to Ghosty
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHow View Post
You propose some other agency that caused the end of the war? Wishing made it so?
The sinking of the Japanese Imperial Navy and the blockade ended the war. That was the assesment of our military leaders of the time. The atom bombs were show pieces, IMO. Japan woldn't have been seeking a peace treaty before the bombs if continued warfare was feasible.

Peace and God bless!
__________________
But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.
  #63  
Old Jun 27, '11, 5:32 pm
smichhertz smichhertz is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: August 19, 2010
Posts: 2,023
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

As added food for thought: doesn't Catholic Theology support the idea that the ends don't justify the means? If that's the case, than in order to argue that the bombing of Hiroshima, a Catholic cannot use the ENDS (such as the end of the war, or sparing of lives) as justification but must rather focus on the MEANS (destroying an entire city) and show how it is morally neutral.

That's where my hang up is. If anyone can successfully do it, I'll be the first to admit it.
__________________

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." - Pope St. John Paul II
  #64  
Old Jun 27, '11, 7:34 pm
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smichhertz View Post
As added food for thought: doesn't Catholic Theology support the idea that the ends don't justify the means? If that's the case, than in order to argue that the bombing of Hiroshima, a Catholic cannot use the ENDS (such as the end of the war, or sparing of lives) as justification but must rather focus on the MEANS (destroying an entire city) and show how it is morally neutral.

That's where my hang up is. If anyone can successfully do it, I'll be the first to admit it.
You are right. The ends don't justify the means. And my problem with where this leads us, in retrospect, is that Truman withholds use of the two bombs, there is an invasion, and a much greater loss of life. But that's consequentialism. I suppose the correct answer is to forgo the bombs and suffer the larger loss of life on both sides.

In reality, this type of discussion simply did not arise in 1945. Not from Catholic theologians, not from the bishops. I doubt that there was much discussion when the crossbow was first invented either, or siege machines.

Edit: As another retrospective hypothesis: Had Harry Truman decided not to deploy the atomic bombs which were available and the war had dragged on for even a few more months with great loss of life, it's likely that he would have been the most vilified President in the U.S. from 1945 up until today, once that fact had been realized.
  #65  
Old Jun 27, '11, 9:18 pm
Ghosty Ghosty is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 3, 2004
Posts: 8,388
Religion: transferring to the Melkite Church
Send a message via MSN to Ghosty Send a message via Yahoo to Ghosty
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

The odds of an all-out invasion happening were pretty slim, with or without the bomb. Of course plans were drawn up and preparations were made in the chance it became necessary, but most senior military officers expected the Japanese to surrender before an invasion became necessary. The fact that we now know that they were trying to pursue an end to the war before the bombs were dropped goes even further towards demonstrating that an invasion was a highly unlikely scenario.

In short, it was not a choice between atomic bombs or invasion; Japan could have easily been isolated and waited out.

Peace and God bless!
__________________
But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.
  #66  
Old Jun 27, '11, 9:28 pm
exnihilo exnihilo is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 13, 2011
Posts: 1,528
Religion: Protestant
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
You are right. The ends don't justify the means. .
I disagree. The ends are what justify the means. The end is the purpose. The means are how you get there.

Take for instance the act of cutting someone in the stomach. That is the means. If the end is to rob someone then it is immoral. If the end is to remove a burst appendix then the act is moral. Of course it is not that simple. There are other things to consider. There is the probability of success, comparison of other options, and more.

In this case the end was unconditional surrender of Japan. If the end was proper then this might have been the best means to that end. Where the problem lies is in the end or purpose. It was unreasonable to demand unconditional surrender. That still leaves open surrender under many strict conditions. The US favors subjugating its enemies. Sadly it started at home with the South and continues to this day.
  #67  
Old Jun 27, '11, 9:37 pm
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghosty View Post
The odds of an all-out invasion happening were pretty slim, with or without the bomb. Of course plans were drawn up and preparations were made in the chance it became necessary, but most senior military officers expected the Japanese to surrender before an invasion became necessary. The fact that we now know that they were trying to pursue an end to the war before the bombs were dropped goes even further towards demonstrating that an invasion was a highly unlikely scenario.

In short, it was not a choice between atomic bombs or invasion; Japan could have easily been isolated and waited out.

Peace and God bless!
Well, that is a judgment that one may make in the year 2011 from a well removed vantage point.

Would Japan have surrendered in the absence of an invasion or the atomic bombs? Maybe. But they certainly seemed to be prepared to fight to the bitter end.

U.S. troops invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945 and secured the island after 12 weeks of fierce fighting at a cost of 50,000 American casualties, 90,000 Japanese military casualties, and at least 100,000 civilian casualties. The U.S. considered that to be a proximate preparation for what to expect in an invasion of the mainland. You and I may think that Truman could have backed off and waited for surrender; that was not a judgment that he was prepared to make. My guess is he might have been impeached for doing nothing. But that’s just speculation. I wasn’t there. But thousands of U.S. troops were.

http://www.britannica.com/presidents/article-215092
  #68  
Old Jun 27, '11, 9:44 pm
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exnihilo View Post
I disagree. The ends are what justify the means. The end is the purpose. The means are how you get there.

Take for instance the act of cutting someone in the stomach. That is the means. If the end is to rob someone then it is immoral. If the end is to remove a burst appendix then the act is moral. Of course it is not that simple. There are other things to consider. There is the probability of success, comparison of other options, and more.

In this case the end was unconditional surrender of Japan. If the end was proper then this might have been the best means to that end. Where the problem lies is in the end or purpose. It was unreasonable to demand unconditional surrender. That still leaves open surrender under many strict conditions. The US favors subjugating its enemies. Sadly it started at home with the South and continues to this day.
I understand. But the principal is that a good end does not justify using an immoral means. If a means is intrinsically immoral then the outcome expected does not justify it.

In the case at hand, the ending of the war was a good and desirable end. The argument is that the use of massive weapons against civilian populations is not a moral means.

As I've mentioned before, the use of the atomic bombs was far from the only instance in which civilians were targeted during the war. So I don't think that the weapons can be faulted simply for being nuclear, but rather for being targeted against civilians. That argument can be made against other campaigns of the war as well.

Nowadays, nuclear weapons can be made nearly as small, or as large, as you like.
  #69  
Old Jun 27, '11, 10:04 pm
Warrior1979 Warrior1979 is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: March 3, 2011
Posts: 1,372
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
I understand. But the principal is that a good end does not justify using an immoral means. If a means is intrinsically immoral then the outcome expected does not justify it.

In the case at hand, the ending of the war was a good and desirable end. The argument is that the use of massive weapons against civilian populations is not a moral means.
If not taking this action results in the death of innocent civilians, how is it moral? Is the death of many civilians by nonaction a moral means?
  #70  
Old Jun 27, '11, 10:09 pm
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warrior1979 View Post
If not taking this action results in the death of innocent civilians, how is it moral? Is the death of many civilians by nonaction a moral means?
Well, that is another conundrum. Had Truman stood aside, it is likely the Japanese would have increased the intensity of their fighting with suicide attacks against the fleet.

But it is a hypothetical. He did take action. And now, in hindsight, we second guess his action.
  #71  
Old Jun 27, '11, 10:58 pm
Ghosty Ghosty is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 3, 2004
Posts: 8,388
Religion: transferring to the Melkite Church
Send a message via MSN to Ghosty Send a message via Yahoo to Ghosty
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
Well, that is a judgment that one may make in the year 2011 from a well removed vantage point.

Would Japan have surrendered in the absence of an invasion or the atomic bombs? Maybe. But they certainly seemed to be prepared to fight to the bitter end.

U.S. troops invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945 and secured the island after 12 weeks of fierce fighting at a cost of 50,000 American casualties, 90,000 Japanese military casualties, and at least 100,000 civilian casualties. The U.S. considered that to be a proximate preparation for what to expect in an invasion of the mainland. You and I may think that Truman could have backed off and waited for surrender; that was not a judgment that he was prepared to make. My guess is he might have been impeached for doing nothing. But that’s just speculation. I wasn’t there. But thousands of U.S. troops were.

http://www.britannica.com/presidents/article-215092
Except, again, Japan was making moves for peace prior to the atomic bombings. Those avenues were not pursued by the Allies. Had the bombings not occurred, the Japanese could have been brought to the table since they were already offering that for at least a month prior.

Had an invasion happened without first attempting the Japanese peace offers it would have also been immoral, perhaps moreso than the atomic bombs.

Peace and God bless!
__________________
But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.
  #72  
Old Jun 28, '11, 8:00 am
exnihilo exnihilo is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 13, 2011
Posts: 1,528
Religion: Protestant
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
I understand. But the principal is that a good end does not justify using an immoral means. If a means is intrinsically immoral then the outcome expected does not justify it.
That statement is certainly a principle we can discuss. But I think it is important for people to realize that it is always ends that justify the means. The simple statement does a disservice to good thinking.

What is called intrinsically immoral is often a statement of the ends. For instance killing is not intrinsically wrong. Killing in self defense, whether personal or national, is acceptable. Killing in aggression is wrong. We call the later murder and we can say that murder is always wrong. But that is because murder contains in it the end or purpose.

When people talk about immoral means they are discussing the subelements of a larger plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
In the case at hand, the ending of the war was a good and desirable end. The argument is that the use of massive weapons against civilian populations is not a moral means.

As I've mentioned before, the use of the atomic bombs was far from the only instance in which civilians were targeted during the war. So I don't think that the weapons can be faulted simply for being nuclear, but rather for being targeted against civilians. That argument can be made against other campaigns of the war as well.
I think that you are right that the real question is whether targeting civilians is right. The US did so extensively in the war including Dresden and the fire bombing of Tokyo. As I understand a nuclear weapon would have been useless on Tokyo since it was already largely destroyed. The choice of cities was based on finding cities not already largely destroyed through bombing campaigns.

The end of the war was indeed good. Ending war is almost always good. But again the terms of the surrender are important to the analysis. If the demands of surrender were unreasonable then we have some difficultly in determining that using nuclear weapons to bring about that surrender was right.
  #73  
Old Jun 28, '11, 9:04 am
smichhertz smichhertz is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: August 19, 2010
Posts: 2,023
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exnihilo View Post
That statement is certainly a principle we can discuss. But I think it is important for people to realize that it is always ends that justify the means. The simple statement does a disservice to good thinking.

What is called intrinsically immoral is often a statement of the ends. For instance killing is not intrinsically wrong. Killing in self defense, whether personal or national, is acceptable. Killing in aggression is wrong. We call the later murder and we can say that murder is always wrong. But that is because murder contains in it the end or purpose.

When people talk about immoral means they are discussing the subelements of a larger plan.
Now you are getting into the difference between proximate and remote intention. The "means" can include the proximate intention. For instance, killing an innocent life is immoral, whereas killing in self-defense is moral. But the proximate intention is different from the end. The end is the intended result of the immediate action. In the case of Hiroshima, the intended result was the destruction of an entire city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exnihilo View Post
I think that you are right that the real question is whether targeting civilians is right. The US did so extensively in the war including Dresden and the fire bombing of Tokyo. As I understand a nuclear weapon would have been useless on Tokyo since it was already largely destroyed. The choice of cities was based on finding cities not already largely destroyed through bombing campaigns.
Exactly. If one can show how targeting civilians is a morally neutral act, then we might be able to work back to justifying the bombing of Hiroshima. However, I struggle to see how.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exnihilo View Post
The end of the war was indeed good. Ending war is almost always good. But again the terms of the surrender are important to the analysis. If the demands of surrender were unreasonable then we have some difficultly in determining that using nuclear weapons to bring about that surrender was right.
That's an interesting thought. The Allies did require of the Axis powers unconditional surrender and would not accept anything less. However, on the flip side of things, if there was ever a time when world powers were so far gone, that unconditional surrender was necessary to reestablish world order, WWII was that time.
__________________

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." - Pope St. John Paul II
  #74  
Old Jun 28, '11, 10:30 am
JimG JimG is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: May 23, 2004
Posts: 23,113
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

The question of whether or not Truman made the wrong decision in dropping the atomic bombs has been covered rather exhaustively in several past threads. (For example, this one.) I'm not sure if I can survive yet another one. The arguments have all been made.

In addition, there are several books which treat the matter comprehensively, such as Truman and the Cult of Hiroshima, Rober P. Newman, and Downfall—The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, by Richard Frank.

It is always rather difficult, if not presumptuous, to try to step into a prior era and second guess the decisions made. We do it all the time, of course, but in doing so it helps to put oneself as much as possible into the midst of the events of the time, and that is nearly impossible.

One might imagine that one is an advisor to Harry Truman in 1945, reading reports of war casualties from Okinawa, the memory of Pearl Harbor still fresh in one's mind, and ponder whether to advise the president that we need do nothing, Japan is on the verge of collapse. (Well, Okinawa didn't give the impression they were ready for surrender.) There were no Catholic bishops stepping into the fray, saying of course atomic weapons should not be used. Now, nearly seven decades later, we have the luxury of argumentation.

Did dropping the bombs end the war early thereby saving several million lives on both sides?

Could the war have been ended quickly with no atomic bombs and no invasion?

You pay your money and you take your choice. But somebody had to make a decision.
  #75  
Old Jun 28, '11, 10:52 am
Godfollower Godfollower is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: January 15, 2007
Posts: 1,958
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: As a Catholic, What do you think about Hiroshima?

Suppose you knew for a fact that killing a particular two-year-old child by firing squad would force the Japanese government to surrender unconditionally, ending the war immediately. Would you do it?

Catholic theology teaches us that you can never commit an evil act in order that good might result from it; you can never kill an innocent person on purpose; and two-year-olds are by definition innocent. So you couldn't do it.

Now, multiply that action by the thousand of non-military, innocent people killed by the bombs. That doesn't support dropping the bombs; it makes the analysis worse (because the evil act in question is made more grave by the scale of the offense).

The only way out under Catholic teaching is under the principle of double effect: one may perform a good action even if it is foreseen that a bad effect will arise only if four conditions are met:
  1. The act itself must be morally good -- it cannot be evil in itself;
  2. The only thing that one can intend is the good act -- one cannot intend the foreseen bad effect;
  3. The good effect cannot arise from the bad effect -- otherwise, one would do evil to achieve good; and
  4. The unintended but foreseen bad effect cannot be disproportionate to the good being performed.
Invading Japan by conventional means would satisfy these tests, barring specific assumptions made for the purpose of prohibiting the invasion. How does dropping the bomb satisfy them?
Closed Thread

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Social Justice

Bookmarks

Tags
hiroshima, japan, nagasaki, war

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8540Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: Kellyreneeomara
5202CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: tawny
4434Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: DesertSister62
4037OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: eschator83
3870SOLITUDE
Last by: tuscany
3841Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: DesertSister62
3401Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: grateful_child
3301Poems and Reflections
Last by: PathWalker
3231Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: Rifester
3152For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: flower lady



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:20 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.