« Resolving Controversial Ethical Issues | Main | School Pride »

September 18, 2007

Comments

Whats your reason apart from religion?

"Shouldn't a religious person's duties always trump what they think is a conflict?"

I believe that is how the Mullahs who run Iran feel a country should be governed. We also have issues of individual freedom and Constitutional issues. The Mullahs oppose individual choice with abortion as did the Communist dictator Ceauşescu. Perhaps allowing second tier issues to dominate ones outlook leads to bad decisions involving governance.

That depends on if one's religious beliefs are "second tier" or the most important part of one's life.

Christianity has been around for so long, it is like a folk religion in the U.S. Politicians are much like the Greek philosophers who technically believed in Greek myths but intellectually knew better than that.

Ok, I'm tired of this back and fourth crap with theists and atheists. Let's draw the line now once and for all. Atheists, give me your best evidence and best case for Darwinian evolution and Atheistism. Give me you absolutle best shot. I want to see it now. Come on! You want God and Christianity to die so, put your magic bullet, your best evidence right here now!

"That depends on if one's religious beliefs are "second tier" or the most important part of one's life."

Not all religious beliefs are second tier.

I bet if everyone in the U.S. decided to exercise their "right" to have an abortion it wouldn't be a second tier issue anymore.

There is a video that has been shown in my local viewing area that addresses this whole issue of pro-choice from a religious perspective and is called "Sacred Choices and
Abortion." What is interesting about this attempt at reaching the religious is that it completely misses the point. That point being that the vast majority of arguments against abortion from the religious base are based on science and biology. I think that the program pretty much focuses on convincing the uninformed believer that abortion can be justified on the basis of religious tradition. This kind of attack shows how important it is for STR to exist as a information conduit that dispels the misconceptions promoted in this type of program.

I think religious duty should trump others. If one believes the Bible to be the true, infallible, inspired word of God, why should one have any other reason to do anything? Why can’t a Christian politician say, “I’m pro-life because God honors life and the Bible says to not commit murder,” and stand by that? Both the politician and layman shouldn’t need any other reason. We don’t have to justify our beliefs to the world with worldly reasoning. If another reason can be found, then perhaps one could use it alongside Scripture, but Christians should ultimately be able to stand on Scripture alone. By the way, Melinda, what is your non-religious reason for being pro-life? I’m curious.

All moral issues are based in religion, and abortion is immoral in most cases - and when it is not immoral, there is a moral reason why -, so there exists no non-religious reasons why abortions ought to be illegal.

To be sure, there exists no non-religious reason why murder, child or spousal abuse, etc. ought to be illegal.

These all have their basis in obligatory standards, which imply a deity.

alan: "The Mullahs oppose individual choice with abortion as did the Communist dictator Ceauşescu."

alan, the use of fallacies (in this case, an absurd genetic fallacy) to argue a point makes the other side look better, not worse.

"To be sure, there exists no non-religious reason why murder, child or spousal abuse, etc. ought to be illegal."

Thanks, Agilius. My sentiments, exactly.

I have yet to get an answer to "why is it okay to use the force of law to mandate certain moral rules (such as "do not murder," etc.) but not others?" What I hear argued (by Alan, among others) is not just that he disagrees with which morals ought to be enforced, but with the enforcing of morals at all, specifically when those morals are religiously motivated.

I'm not trying to attack you personally, Alan, but I have yet to read a response from you that clearly delineates between what you term "Christianists" and what I call "Christians taking part in the political process in the same manner as non-Christians" (that is, wherein everyone has an opinion about what rules members of society must follow, and they all attempt to use political power (even if it is just their vote) to enact those rules into law).

Agilus, niiiice!

Here is another take that this topic has reminded me of. The whole purpose of a representative republic, which is what we have in the U.S,[no, it's not a pure democracy] is that we as a society elect the best among us to LEAD us. This is not what we see, or rarely see if at all in the career politico's of today. The ol stick my finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing is not leadership, it's nothing more than following the mob, and it stinks to high heaven.

The collective wisdom of the people are to put into office the best person to lead and that person is to lead with every bit of his person including his moral character. This character is directly related to his worldview and who they see themselves to be before God. If they are godless, of course expect them to lead with that worldview. This used to be seen as a civic duty, a service, not a get rich at the public trough long enough to get a cushy retirement package deal.

We have chosen poorly all too often which speaks of judgement. The blindness that prevails which shows up at election time is astonishing.

Brad B

You don't need to have any kind of religious reason for being pro-life.

Most people, religious or non, do not go around commiting murder, nor do they condone it. The basic sense of human conscience kicks in and says, "This is wrong."

To give a more specific example, most people religious or non, would never dream of walking up to an infant in a mother's arms and killing him/her. Again, basic human conscience.

The only difference with abortion is the child is inside the mother's body, not outside of it.

So why would it be wrong to kill a baby if a mother's holding it, but ok if the baby just isn't born?

And I say this because I have a friend who is pretty hard core atheist, and yet holds this view. It's common sense and common decency. There doesn't need to be any religion aspect of it brought up.

>>Most people, religious or non, do not go around commiting murder, nor do they condone it. The basic sense of human conscience kicks in and says, "This is wrong."

And those that do kill babies with no remorse; are they more evolved because their sense of common decency allows them to do so?

Anyway, look, to whom are you obligated to refrain from killing the unborn (or anyone else, for that matter)? And if you say we're obligated to the feelings/well-being of our fellow man, then why only to some, and not to others.

Where does your sense of "wrong" come from?

I think that most politicians use this line of reasoning - that their public and private lives are separate - because it has proven a good electioneering tactic. That is, they can appear to be all things to all people this way. The pro-abortionists see their public policy stance. The anti-abortionists (of which I am one) see their private, personal stance. Everyone has something of which they can approve. Since the abortion question is (regrettably) pretty much settled law in the US, the politician can get on with his job.

The problem (from my perspective) is that abortion is wrong by both God's & my absolute standards (i.e., abortion is sin). So tolerating it is an indication of a character flaw. I have to decide between two candidates for public office based on whose character flaws I find least troublsome.

I would rather decide based on whose ideas I liked best, rather than on who I disliked least!

Hi William, my point was not about the validity of a given point but the neutral nature of loyalty to group. sorry if that wasn't clear.

"This character is directly related to his worldview and who they see themselves to be before God. If they are godless, of course expect them to lead with that worldview. This used to be seen as a civic duty, a service, not a get rich at the public trough long enough to get a cushy retirement package deal."

Hi Brad, you then have to explain why our recent history has been just the opposite. Those elected officials who ran, and were supported, as Godly and chock full of "values" turned out to be the most corrupt and inept.

"To be sure, there exists no non-religious reason why murder, child or spousal abuse, etc. ought to be illegal."

Hi Agilius, this is where history and anthropology come in handy. Human society is impossible without rules. All social animals develop rules. Give us an example of a human society that persisted wherein murder was OK. Progressive, secular societies tend to value quality of life. Things like child and spousal abuse (wife-beating, lets be real) are common in socially conservative and traditional societies which also tend to be poor and oppressive. One doesn't need to be religious to prefer one to the other.

Hi Paul, a Christian understands that there are limits to what one should seek to achieve through government imposing limits on individuals, especially when those limits impose criminal penalties. Christianists don't. Christians consider their views in a broad context; Christianists are indifferent to the broader implications of their proposals. Christians understand that no matter how deeply they believe something; if that thing is grounded solely in theology, they need to show some restraint. Christianists feel just fine about imposing theological speculation on all of us.

Note how the definition of "human being" below is theological:

"A human being is a physical body and an immaterial soul that bears the imprint of the image of God. We are made in the image of God. The idea that we are made in the image of God as human beings is what guides all our responsibilities towards human beings, which are different than our ethical responsibilities toward other living creatures."

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070907/29220_Christian_Apologist_Dissects_Ethics_Behind_%27Artificial_Life%2C%27_Cloning.htm

Don says,

"If another reason can be found, then perhaps one could use it alongside Scripture, but Christians should ultimately be able to stand on Scripture alone."

Don, when you have a moment, please provide the Scripture which says we should rely on Scripture "alone". Strangely, my Bible does not contain the phrase "Scripture alone".

What if the created order were itself a kind of "book" by which God revealed himself? And what if reason and faith were not in conflict so that faith was actually a guide to reason? Then appeals could be made to non-believers on the basis of truths which are self-evident and commonly accepted (like - human life should be defended, an animal fetus does not spontaneously become a human fetus, and if there is doubt about the humanity of an unborn child the benefit of the doubt should be given to the protection of life).

>>One doesn't need to be religious to prefer one to the other.

I think you misunderstand me.

When I said "there exists no non-religious reason why murder [etc.] ought to be illegal," what I meant was that, when I consider what must be in order for obligatory standards to make sense, I find that they require a deity - whether I were to believe in one or not.

So, I'm not saying that Atheists can't choose to act moral *without an allegiance* to a deity - far from it; Rather, the Atheist simply has not followed his experiences to their logical conclusion: That which is required for moral consideration is a soul, and by extention, a god.

So, ultimately, all moral considerations have their basis in theology.

[Aside: Maybe I should just claim that all my religiously based political views are actually secularly based; Then we can bypass the "separation of Church and State" fiasco. O.o]

Alan -

Does a "leftist" understand that there are limits to what one should seek to achieve through the government not protecting individuals, especially when those individuals are our most innocent, defenseless citizens? And if so, why do you support our current abortion laws that have forced leftist morality on some 40 million+ innocent citizens over the past 36 years?

The comments above regarding christianists are, at best, a contrasting of "Christians" vs. "christians by name only". Something the Bible actually has a lot to say about. You've contrasted those who don't really believe, or who are unaware of what traditional, orthodox Christianity is and those who vote and defend a traditional Christian value system in the public square.

In closing, I'd like to point out that you are actually in a similar predicament as the Christian in your example above who doesn't really live like a Christian. You are a leftist/agnostic by name only. You really don't live like one. Sure you may defend abortion on demand, unbridled stem cell research, open borders, et al. However, notice that, as broken and twisted as it may be at times - you use logic and reason. Which is something your professed worldview, has yet to explain or account for. In this case you are standing on the assumptions of a theistic worldview and broadcasting to all of us - implicit as it may be - that you don't really believe what you say you do. Your actions simply reinforce what we already know - you live in God's universe too.

You can't live as though God doesn't exist, because there is no where to hide in His universe.

"Does a "leftist" understand that there are limits to what one should seek to achieve through the government not protecting individuals, especially when those individuals are our most innocent, defenseless citizens?"

Hi John, would you cite your source (Constitutional, Supreme Court decision, or U. S. Code), that makes them citizens? Your inability to do that makes my point.

Hi Alan -

Would you cite your source (Constitutional, Supreme Court decision, or U.S. Code) that states God does not exist? Your inability to do that does NOT make my point, or prove the Christian worldview as the best explanation for reality. Rather, your inability to cite a legal document to answer a metaphysical question, would simply reinforce what we already know - these things are different categories.

The short answer to your question is - no. Without research beyond my current schedule I cannot cite a case law source at this time. However, this should not discourage you from taking my broader point regarding worldviews seriously. You have simply moved the "goal post" with your question, but have not scored any points, or done any real work in the conversation.

As the question of abortion is a moral one, your challenge to cite case law is at best a category error and at worst a logical fallacy. The point contested here at STR is not that abortion is legal - it is obvious it is. The question is - is it moral? Therefore, it is, by definition an impossibility to cite current case law that supports my moral position, when my moral position is not supported by current law. Your moral position is. That does not make your moral position correct - just legal.

An example of a legal, yet immoral practice that easily comes to mind in our countries past is slavery. It is curious to note, that men of character, acting in accordance with a Christian worldview brought the end to that abominable practice.

Using your given definition of "Christian and Christianist", the Christian would have never imposed his "theological speculation" about 'dem colored folk' being made in the image of God, on other human beings.

Thank God for Christianists.

>>And those that do kill babies with no remorse; are they more evolved because their sense of common decency allows them to do so?>>


I have no clue how they justify themselves.

>>Anyway, look, to whom are you obligated to refrain from killing the unborn (or anyone else, for that matter)? And if you say we're obligated to the feelings/well-being of our fellow man, then why only to some, and not to others.

Where does your sense of "wrong" come from?>>

Posted by: Agilius | September 19, 2007 at 12:22 AM

Again, I have no idea how they work all of this out in their minds. Of course morality without God doesn't have any sort of grounding. But most non religious folks that I know of don't take their beliefs to the logical conclusion. It works for them, for the moment, and that's that.

(That's why I never could be an atheist, because I *did* consider the logical conclusions of such a life view. And it was horrifying! People must just... shut that out and not think about it, I guess.)

Hi John, the strategy STR has adopted in fighting abortion is to extend personhood to fertilized eggs. This is most definitely makes it a legal issue.

If the chosen strategy was to strengthen the safety net, we would be looking at the policy details of health care and family allowances.

Your points above would be well taken if you all chose to confine your efforts to moral persuasion. that however isn't the case. You seek to radically change our laws so it is entirely proper for me to ask how we get from here to where you want to be.

We solved the problem of slavery with a bloody war, four Constitutional amendments, several key Supreme Court decisions, numerous civil rights laws, and not a few bayonets.

From time to time I ask a simple question: What are the implications of what you wish to do? I have yet to see a serious discussion of the effects of your strategy.

Hi Alan -

I think we're talking past each other. Your comments regarding the legal machinery that ended the problem of slavery are true as far as I know, but again do not follow from your worldview.

I do not have a good answer to your question regarding how do we get from "here to there", with the legal machinery as I am not a lawyer, nor do I aspire to be.

I do however know a thing about logic and I know I have never seen a reasonable explanation of when a human being becomes a person. Maybe there is one and I just haven't seen it. I am open to hearing your explanation.

What do you mean by "person" and how does that differ from a human being?

>>From time to time I ask a simple question: What are the implications of what you wish to do? I have yet to see a serious discussion of the effects of your strategy.

Yes, this is a difficult consideration because for the Christian, the goal is two-fold: 1) a government run according to Christian values, and 2) a country which welcomes people of all walks of life.

Given that this is not possible, how do I make sense of faith-based political efforts.

I am all for a less direct/aggressive political approach, provided my faith-based political ideologies have a forum.

I think that's the best we can hope for - and that's pretty darn good, if you ask me; Open forums is what I understand America to be all about.

And if America won't listen, then I'd still feel good about my opportunity to represent, and that I had an equal forum.

If I held office, I suppose that I would be in a great position to espouse my faith-based political ideologies, while at the same time doing the work that I've been elected to do. I think that's entirely possible; The freedom of speech extends to those in office, also, right?

Mark,

I didn't say the Bible said that exact phrase, and that wasn't even the point I was making. God does reveal himself in creation (Romans 1-2). I never so much as indicated that reason and faith were in conflict. Reason can bring nonbelievers to at least see the rationale of Scripture. My point was that if someone is a Christian, they should be able to stand on their beliefs as their reason. If a Christian politician says, "The Bible says murder is wrong, so I will therefore vote against any pro-choice legislation," would it be fair to then say in response, "That's not good enough, you must have a reasonable explanation"? If an atheist politician says, "A woman has a right to choose whether or not she has children, so I will therefore vote for any pro-choice legislation," [not to say all atheists believe this] would it be fair to then say, "That's not good enough, you must have a biblical explanation"? Neither of those are fair or even sensible. I'm not going to ask a Muslim to justify his actions based on the alignment of the stars on that certain day. The Bible is the Holy Scripture, good for instruction in all of life - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 speaks on this. If Christians begin to say that it's not authoritative and can't stand on it's own, then what real good is it? We'll just end up picking and choosing what we like out of it - what's easy, and we'll end up creating our own god fashioned from our own desires. Hopefully that cleared things up. Sorry for not being as clear as I could be in the original post. Thanks.

Hey Don,

I think I read too much into your post and took it in a direction that was unwarranted. Sorry about that.

It seems to me that Revelation (either Scripture or Scripture and Tradition - depending upon your views) is the strongest and best argument for believers (ordinarily authority is the weakest argument - except when it is God who is speaking). But, when you are attempting to appeal to non-believers, as in a political context, you need to argue from the things which you share in common: e.g. the natural order and the common good.

For the believer, moreover, the "faith" is not hermetically sealed in a book or a creed but reason as well is a testament to the moral framework of human life. In my mind, the believer treasures both "faith" and reason in the sense of "faith seeking understanding". In the public square we should follow the lead of the apostle Paul who appealed both to scripture and philosophy in attempting to win over his listeners.

Hi Mark,
You wrote: "...please provide the Scripture which says we should rely on Scripture 'alone'. Strangely, my Bible does not contain the phrase "Scripture alone"."

You Bible also doesn't contain the word "trinity", but that doesn't mean it isn't clearly taught in the Bible. I'll not weigh in on the "sola scriptura" discussion, as I am not qualified. I just wanted to point out that the Bible can teach something without directly using a term or phrase we (in this time-period) have attached to it.

Hi Alan,
Since there are fetal homicide laws that protect an unborn child (that is, unless Mom doesn't want it, strangely), I would say that is the recognition by the state of the personhood/citizenship of that unborn child.

Paul,

The notion of "sola scriptura", as developed in 16th century Protestantism, implies that everything in Christian theology must be able to be derived from Scripture alone and that each individual can arrive at the correct interpretation of a given passage of Scripture. For this reason I am puzzled you would say you are not "qualified" to speak with authority on the discussion of "sola scriptura" and the "trinity". Are you not appealing to outside authority, whether it is your pastor, your church elders, a group of academics or a vote of your church membership?

As for the Trinity, the word does not appear in Scripture and the notions of person, substance and relation are not developed there in a sufficient degree to forestall the perennial heresies of arianism, modalism, nestorianism, monophysitism, etc. The classic statement of Trinitarian theology did not come until the mid-5th century in the Athanasian Creed, after centuries of hard-fought debate and disagreement:

3. But this is the catholic faith: That we worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father: another of the Son: another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father is uncreated: the Son is uncreated: the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
9. The Father is immeasurable: the Son is immeasurable: the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
10. The Father is eternal: the Son eternal: the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet there are not three eternals; but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated: nor three immeasurable: but one uncreated, and one immeasurable.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty: the Son almighty: and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet there are not three almighties: but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Spirit is God.
16. And yet there are not three Gods; but one God.
17. So the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Spirit Lord.
18. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord:
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there are three Gods, or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none; neither created; nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone: not made; nor created; but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son: not made; neither created; nor begotten; but proceeding.
24. Thus there is one father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is before or after another: none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.
28. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
29. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that we believe also rightly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. Now the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
31. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God: perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead: inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood.
34. And although He be God and Man; yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance; but by unity of person.

Hi Mark,

You wrote: "...please provide the Scripture which says we should rely on Scripture 'alone'. Strangely, my Bible does not contain the phrase "Scripture alone"."

I have a simple question... It is written:

"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:10-11

The Bereans were commended and regarded as "fair-minded" because they, upon receiving the word with a ready heart, also "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Do you believe that we should do the same? Do you believe that we should also always search the Scriptures to find out whether what we are hearing aligns with it or do you think we should accept teachings without searching the Scriptures to see if they align or contradict it? I dont get it. I'm confused. Please explain.

Thanks

Hi Paul, here is the relevant section of the California Penal Code. It clearly doesn't consider a fetus to be a human being. In California at least the addition of the fetus in 187 was prompted by a single incident, unrelated to abortion.

"187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a
fetus, with malice aforethought.
(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act
that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:
(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2
(commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division
106 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon'
s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a
case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be
death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth,
although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or
more likely than not.
(3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the
mother of the fetus.
(c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the
prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.

Here is the relevant section of the U.S. Constitution:

"XIV - Citizen rights not to be abridged

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

This is the first article of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen", 1789, France:

"1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good."

This is from "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights":

"Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Folks have understood the concept of "conception" for a long time; the Framers understood it, the French Assembly understood it, the writers of the 14th Amendment understood it, and the delegates to the General Assembly in 1948 understood it. To my knowledge no one, in any of those assemblies, even proposed making conception a factor. The California Legislature could have written that "murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, whatever its stage of gestation or development..." It didn't.

Here is a pretty good definition of "person" from Locke:

"a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as it self, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it"

A relevant case:
http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-121-2000.pdf

A paper on personhood:
http://law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=9157&context=expresso

Re: the 14th:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0410_0113_ZD.html

Again, I understand that you are motivated by theological and/ or philosophical concerns. Errors in such thinking are often made clear by an analysis of where the implimentation of an abstract idea will take us.


AC,

Presumably, the Bareans were searching the Old Testament as Paul's journey there anteceded the development of the New Testament. So are you saying we should follow the example of the Bareans and limit ourselves to the OT? Does the text say they "only" studied the Scriptures? First century Jews did not practice "sola scriptura" (the idea comes from the Renaissance) but also looked to Rabbinic authority for guidance. In fact Our Lord, himself, cites extrabiblical traditions as authoritative.

So I repeat my question: where in the Bible does it say that Scripture alone is authoritative for Christian faith and morals? While your at it, if Scripture is our "only" source for faith and morals, where in Scripture is the canonical list of authoritative books? How does one accept the gift of the historical Catholic Church, the Bible, without accepting the Church herself?

"So are you saying we should follow the example of the Bereans and limit ourselves to the OT?"

Of course not. That is silly. I was saying that we should be as the Bereans and search the Scriptures daily to find out if what we are being taught (by anyone claiming to speak on Gods behalf) is so. Just like the Bereans did.

"Does the text say they "only" studied the Scriptures?"

No. They received Paul's teaching with all readiness (after they had searched the Scriptures to see if his teaching aligned with God's revealed will and in no wise contradicted it).

"First century Jews did not practice "sola scriptura" (the idea comes from the Renaissance) but also looked to Rabbinic authority for guidance."

Yes, many of the ones who rejected Jesus partly did so because they were resting the well-being of their souls on rabbinical interpretation. The truth is that the Jews who received Jesus many times actually did so DESPITE rabbinical authority and guidance. They were then thrown out of synagogues and persecuted, some even to the point of death.

Should we obey and submit under our spiritual leaders? Yes, so long as what they are teaching is not contrary to Scripture. That is all that I am saying.

Hi Mark,

You wrote: "For this reason I am puzzled you would say you are not 'qualified' to speak with authority on the discussion of 'sola scriptura' and the 'trinity'. Are you not appealing to outside authority, whether it is your pastor, your church elders, a group of academics or a vote of your church membership?"

Kudos on a clever argument. I think I perhaps did not clarify what I meant by "qualified." If I had meant that I must attain some church office to speak on such matters, you would be entirely correct. I merely meant "qualified" in the sense that I have not carefully read the Scriptures on the matter and considered the opinions of those skilled in theological thought. Relying on the work of others skilled in such areas would not equate to placing them in authority over Scripture, thus one could still hold to "sola scriptura" and take counsel from teachers.

To clarify: I have heard good arguments on both sides, and have not fully formed a thorough opinion on the matter, so I'm not making an argument about the topic specifically, but rather about how to approach it.

Hi Alan,

"It clearly doesn't consider a fetus to be a human being."

I'll agree -- the text of the CA law you cited doesn't hold them in the same regard. I'm not certain all states would be the same, but I could be wrong. However, if it's "merely blood and tissue" then why is it written into the law at all? Where are the laws on what teeth I'm allowed to extract? Where does it say under what conditions the abuser of my appendix will be punished?

"In California at least the addition of the fetus in 187 was prompted by a single incident, unrelated to abortion."

Well, of course it's unrelated to abortion. The fact that killing a fetus results in punishment unless the mother wants it killed merely exposes the contradictions within the law.

"Here is a pretty good definition of 'person' from Locke: 'a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as it self, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it'"

My three-week-old son isn't a person, then (he doesn't do anything besides cry, poop, and sleep -- he certainly doesn't "reflect"). Please tell me how Locke's definition can properly identify a one-day-old baby as a "person" and a nine-month fetus as "not a person".

"Again, I understand that you are motivated by theological and/ or philosophical concerns."

Yes, partially. In this area, I'm more motivated by common sense. We don't allow people (for the reasons typically given for having an abortion) to murder infants, and there is no morally significant difference between the unborn and an infant.

Alan, I understand (and even sympathize with) your reluctance to attribute to a just-fertilized egg the same worth as an adult. Perhaps our discussions could be clarified if we change those two actors instead to: nine-month fetus and one-week-old infant.

"Errors in such thinking are often made clear by an analysis of where the implimentation of an abstract idea will take us."

For the record, *you* are also motivated by theological / philosophical ideas, and as such your ideas must similarly be subject to the same analysis. To what end are we taken when we implement the idea that living things are only valuable if we want them? We are led to the conclusion of Peter Singer (a Yale ethicist, of all things), who thinks parents should have up to a month after birth to terminate the life of their child.

"Well, of course it's unrelated to abortion. The fact that killing a fetus results in punishment unless the mother wants it killed merely exposes the contradictions within the law."

Hi Paul, just for the record here's the incident with some discussion:

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20040128.html

As for your child, you may be selling him short. I know I have memories from two years so he certainly will have memories from three. We are dealing with CNS development here and as near as I have been able to find out, we likely have a quantum leap somewhere in the twenties(weeks).

I believe I have agreed that there is a compelling state interest in protecting fetal life somewhere around there. The reality is that non-therapeutic abortions after twenty four weeks or so are a very small number.

The only arguments I have with you folks on abortion is with your attempts to deal with a social problem with radical constitutional and deceptive legislative solutions.

Singer is entitled to his point of view however you should understand that the same Constitution that protects a womans right to choose to be pregnant at one point, protects a viable fetus at another point and protects our one month old absolutely.

I understand that this is problematic for folks that believe we have a person at conception but makes sense for those of us who believe that neither Nature nor God values blastocysts all that much and who understand that development is key.

Hi Alan -

Reference is made to Locke's definition of a human being from your post: "a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as it self, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it".

Thank you for this definition Alan! This illustrates my earlier point beautifully; what you profess to believe and what you live according to are distinct and separate philosophies. You don't really believe this definition of a human being, because if you did, there would be nothing immoral if I were to take your life as you slept. And I am sure you would object to that!

When Locke's definition is applied to sleeping human beings, in other words - taken to it's logical conclusions - we find that you are neither thinking or conscious when asleep and therefore, not a human being. (according to Locke)

Locke's definition of a human being turns on the distinction between actual and potential capabilities. The fertilized egg, if left to mature in it's natural environment will eventually develop the capabilities Locke defines as the human essence. Now I don't agree with Locke, but since you do, you share his dilemma. (HT to JP Moreland for this argument)

A sleeping human being and an unborn human being have the same potential for the things you define as human. The fact that neither subject is actively engaged in those activities means it is morally benign to take the life of either. As this is most likely a conclusion you are not willing to live with, it would be the death blow to Locke's view of human persons. (all puns intended)

Hi John, sorry, neither you nor J.P. get the cigar here. First of all, if one counts development as key, then I have the CNS structure to fulfill Locke's conditions, a fertilized egg doesn't and, given the mortality figures on fertilized eggs, any given fertilized egg, allowing nature to take its course, has less than an even change of developing that structure. Note also that Mr. Locke is dealing with potential, "has", "can", and not the constant utilization of the abilities.

Secondly when I am sleeping I am sometimes dreaming, showing the use of mental faculties, that, as I can often remember my dreams or at least that I was dreaming, demonstrate at minimum a connection to conscious mental faculties of the sort that Locke was referring to. Also you might consider the implications of this:

http://www.lucidity.com/SleepAndCognition.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucid_dream

"A sleeping human being and an unborn human being have the same potential for the things you define as human."

Not until around 20 weeks or so unless you equate potential based on existing structure with a potential to develop that structure.

While there are good reasons for keeping legal personhood at birth, that doesn't mean that there are not good reasons for protecting fetal life at some point. This can be done without screwing around with the Constitution. The abysmal reasoning in Carthart 2 convinces me more than ever of the soundness of that view.

Changing the social safety net will cut abortions without the damage you all seem oblivious to.

Alan -

you wrote: ",,,any given fertilized egg, allowing nature to take its course, has less than an even change of developing that structure."

To the best of my knowledge your stats are wrong, but thats not the rub in this statement. Your reasoning is. This statement turns on probability...which is horrible grounding for human value my friend.

Is it a possibility that you may not wake up? It is right? It's most likely not a good chance assuming you're in good health and of middle age. But following your line of reasoning here, what does possibility have to do with Locke's definition of human persons?

Alan also wrote:
"Changing the social safety net will cut abortions without the damage you all seem oblivious to."

What is that "damage" that I am oblivious to? Are you suggesting that women will suffer more when abortion becomes illegal again? Why are you not concerned with the health condition of women that have abortions now?

A recent study done by a pro-abortion research firm in New Zealand found that...."Those (women under 25) having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders. This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors."

The authors of this study went on to conclude that "The findings suggest that abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems." (Ref:www.chmeds.ac.nz/research/chds/view1.pdf)

Alan, my fear here is that you have been sold a bill of goods by the abortion machine in our country. I think you have been duped into thinking that abortion is good for America. Have you ever heard of Dr. Bernard Nathanson?

Dr. Bernard Nathanson was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the U.S. in 1968. He was personally responsible for 75,000 abortions before he witnessed one being performed by a new technology at the time called an ultrasound. He was absolutely convinced he was involved in what he calls "....purposeful destruction of what is undeniably human life. It is an impermissible act of deadly violence.....Although I am not a formal religionist, I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence (read intrinsic value of human life) which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity." Dr. Nathanson was a staunch secular humanistic atheist when he said those words, but he still recognized human life is intrinsically valuable.

One of the most courageous things any human being can do is to disagree with his peers for matters of principle. Upon realizing the truth of what he had been doing, he confessed to the spread of much of the propaganda that is still sold today as truth, which you and many, many others beside yourself have bought into Alan.

Consider what Dr. Nathanson had to say about his tactics....

"A truthful poll of opinion then (1968) would have found that most Americans were against permissive abortion. Yet within five years we had convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to issue the decision which legalised abortion throughout America in 1973 and produced virtual abortion on demand up to birth. How did we do this?......We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal enlightened, sophisticated one. Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60% of Americans were in favour of permissive abortion....... We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. (For 1972, the last full year before Roe, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died due to illegal abortion) The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalising abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalization."

You can see you've been sold a bill of goods here right Alan? Now does this argument make sense to you?..... that for the 39-50 women who would die next year (if abortion becomes illegal) because of back-alley abortions, that this is morally justified given that hundreds of thousands of women who will suffer mentally, physically and the more then 1,100 who will take their own lives - not to mention the million + innocent human becomings that will die?

And have you considered the profits to the abortion doctors Alan?.....to the abortion machine that has been built in this country since the legalization of this barbaric practice? Again, from Dr. Nathanson...."At $300 a time, 1.55 million abortions means an industry generating $500,000,000 annually, of which most goes into the pocket of the physician doing the abortion. Are we connecting the dots here yet my friend?....why the propaganda is so strong from those who are happy for you to believe it's only a zygote?....that it's not a human being? Follow the money Alan!

The comments to this entry are closed.