Tag Archives: Doug Groothuis

Philosopher Doug Groothuis explains the logic of the pro-life position

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this study
I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this message

At Christian Post, an article by Douglas Groothuis. (H/T Mary)

Here’s the most useful bit:

When we separate personhood from humanity, we make personhood an achievement based on the possession of certain qualities. But what are these person-constituting qualities? Some say a basic level of consciousness; others assert viability outside the womb; still others say a sense of self-interest (which probably does not obtain until after birth). All of these criteria would take away humanity from those in comas or other physically compromised situations.4 Humans can lose levels of consciousness through injuries, and even infants are not viable without intense and sustained human support. Moreover, who are we to say just what qualities make for membership in the moral community of persons?5 The stakes are very high in this question. If we are wrong in our identification of what qualities are sufficient for personhood and we allow a person to be killed, we have allowed the wrongful killing of nothing less than a person. Therefore, I argue that personhood should be viewed as a substance or essence that is given at conception. The fetus is not a lifeless mechanism that only becomes what it is after several parts are put together—as is the case with a watch or an automobile. Rather, the fetus is a living human organism, whose future unfolds from within itself according to internal principles. For example, the fertilized ovum contains a complete genetic code that is distinct from that of the mother or father. But this is not a mere inert blueprint (which is separable from the building it describes); this is a living blueprint that becomes what its human nature demands.

Yet even if one is not sure when personhood becomes a reality, one should err on the side of being conservative simply because so much is at stake. That is, if one aborts a fetus who is already a person, one commits a deep moral wrong by wrongfully killing an innocent human life. Just as we do not shoot target practice when we are told there may be children playing behind the targets, we should not abortion fetuses if they may be persons with the right not to be killed. As I have argued, it cannot be disputed that abortion kills a living, human being.

Many argue that outside considerations experienced by the mother should overrule the moral value of the human embryo. If a woman does not want a pregnancy, she may abort. But these quality of life considerations always involve issues of lesser moral weight than that of the conservation and protection of a unique human life (which considers the sanctity or innate and intrinsic value of a human life).6 An unwanted pregnancy is difficult, but the answer is not to kill a human being in order to end that pregnancy.

I think that the real question in the abortion debate right now is whether a living organism with a human nature and a human genetic code that is distinct from its mother and father deserves the right to life, or whether it needs to develop some other capability in order to be worthy of protection from violence.

Consider something from philosopher Francis J. Beckwith.

Excerpt:

Some argue that personhood does not arrive until brain waves are detected (40 to 43 days).11Others, such as Mary Anne Warren,12 define a person as a being who can engage in cognitive acts such as sophisticated communication, consciousness, solving complex problems, self-motivated activity and having a self-concept. This would put the arrival of personhood at some time after birth. Still others, such as L. W. Sumner, 13 hold a more moderate position and argue that human personhood does not arrive until the fetus is sentient, the ability to feel and sense as a conscious being. This, according to Sumner, occurs possibly as early as the middle weeks of the second trimester of pregnancy and definitely by the end of that trimester.

Although these criteria differ from each other in important ways, they all have one thing in common: each maintains that if and only if an entity functions in a certain way are we warranted in calling that entity a person. Defenders of these criteria argue that once a human being, whether born or unborn, acquires a certain function or functions–whether it is brain waves, rationality, sentience, etc.– it is then and only then that a person actually exists. Those who defend these personhood criteria typically make a distinction between “being a human” and “being a person.” They argue that although fetuses are members of the species homo sapiens, and in that sense are human, they are not truly persons until they fulfill a particular set of personhood criteria.

Although functional definitions of personhood may tell us some conditions that are sufficient to say that a being is a person, they are not adequate in revealing to us all the conditions that are sufficient for a particular being to be called a person. For example, when a human being is asleep, unconscious, and temporarily comatose, she is not functioning as a person as defined by some personhood criteria. Nevertheless, most people would reject the notion that a human being is not a person while in any of these states. In other words, while personhood criteria, such as the ones presented by Warren can tell us that a being is a person, these criteria are not adequate to declare a being a non-person: The exercise of rational thought tells us that a being is a person; when that person is sleeping, and thus is not exercising rational thought, that lack of exercise of the thought function does not make her a non-person at that time. Consequently, it seems more consistent with our moral intuitions to say that personhood is not something that arises when certain functions are in place, but rather is something that grounds these functions, whether or not they are ever actualized in the life of a human being. Thus, defining personhood strictly in terms of function is inadequate.

If you are pro-life because of your feelings, or because someone told you to be, you ought to know that being pro-life is quite rational and supported by medical evidence. People who are pro-abortion are pro-abortion because they want recreational sex without the complications of having to care for the consequences (babies!) of their own actions. Even if they do not engage in the sex and the abortions themselves, they advocate for abortion rights, and they are guilty of encouraging a culture where 57 million unborn children have died since 1973. We’re long past Stalin numbers with this thing now.

We ought to care about not hurting other people. If grown-up’ selfish pursuit of happy feelings conflicts with another person’s right to life, then maybe we need to take a step back from being happy and start trying to be good instead.

Douglas Groothuis’ exhortation to Christians to study apologetics

Dr. Groothuis’ article lays out 6 “enemies” to the task of apologetics. I’ll look at the first 4.

Enemy #1: We don’t defend God’s existence and character to other people

If we really cared about God like we say we do, then we would care enough to defend his reputation in public. If we really loved our neighbor and believed that they need to follow Jesus in order to be reconciled with God, we would tell them that. But we don’t really care enough about God when his reputation is slammed in public. That’s what being a good friend to God and to our neighbor requires.

Groothuis writes:

Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this “offends” them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another “offends” them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15).

Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was “greatly distressed” when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God “so loved the world” that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18).

Enemy #2: We separate Christianity from the reasons and evidence that ground it

Many Christians alter their theology in order to “get along” with other religions that conflict with ours. Instead of wrestling with the competing truth claims of other religions, some Christians just change the nature of our religion so that it is just our personal preference or cultural narrative, instead of being about truth. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret that historically testable claim so that it’s only true for us. If the Bible says that the universe began to exist, we reinterpret that scientifically testable claim so that it is only true for us.

Groothuis says:

For some Christians, faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument. Worse yet, for some faith means belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. The more irrational our beliefs, the better–the more “spiritual” they are… When Christians opt for irrationalism, they become just another “religious option,” and are classified along with Heaven’s Gate, the Flat Earth Society, and other intellectually impaired groups.

Enemy #3: We don’t take the time to study the reasons and evidence we have

We don’t make time for preparing a defense for our beliefs by leveraging the resources produced by Christian scholars.

Groothuis says:

Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics… Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with nonChristian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods.

Enemy #4: We would rather be liked by people than be a friend to God

Somehow, we have gotten the idea that the purpose of Christianity is for us to be happy. Being popular and accepted by non-Christians makes us feel happy. Moral judgments are divisive, so we avoid making those. Exclusive salvation is divisive, so we avoid exclusivity. All of this so that our lives will be easier and happier.

Groothuis says:

In our pluralistic culture, a “live and let live” attitude is the norm, and a capitulation to social pressure haunts evangelicalism and drains its convictions. Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being “nice” and “tolerant” than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Not enough evangelicals are willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public settings. The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians (in our hearts), but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Doug Groothuis’ message for all Christians who are able to vote on Tuesday

Dr. Doug Groothuis, well-known Christian apologist, wrote this on his Facebook wall and asked everyone to share it:

To my Christian readers.

You are a child of heaven but also a citizen of earth. You are to seek the welfare of the city to which you have been exiled (Jer. 29:7) and be “salt and light” in this broken world (Matthew 5:1-18) We are to render to state what is the state’s (which is not everything) and to God what is God’s (Matthew 22:15-23). We are to see the welfare of “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46).

1. Being apolitical is being apathetic about how God’s world is governed in the civil sphere. Not everything is politics, but politics is crucial to our life together on God’s earth. Some political views are closer to a biblical ethic than others. Therefore:

2. Seek the good of the city, the least the last the lost, by voting for candidates that deny statism (see Ezek 28:1-10). This idolatry and bad news for any society.

3. The state does not create wealth; people and other institutions do that. Let the people and voluntary assembles thrive (under the rule of Law, not the rule of men).

4. Putting more and more souls on welfare and food stamps does not dignify them or help solves their problems. Happiness is earned, it is not derived from state handouts. That fosters a parasite mentality.

5. Allowing over one million unborn human beings made in God’s image to be killed each year through abortion is morally wrong. Fifty-four million (54,000,000) have been so killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973. We have blood on our hands and are tracking it into our churches, homes, and schools. We need to be watchman, prophets who call out sin for those who cannot: the unborn. You cannot make your cheap peace with a President that would expand “reproductive rights” (abortion on demand) and insure that abortions are paid for with tax money, that would make religious organizations insure for abortion.

6. The Bible teaches that debt is unhealthy. It should be limited not protracted. We must get our debt under control, or it will control us, and crush the life out of our economy and our spirits.

7. The state has “the power of the sword” (Romans 13:-17) and has the right to protect its people by force. This is a hostile and dangerous world. Cutty back on the military and not protecting our citizens abroad (Libya) is a dereliction of duty and a disgrace.

8. Be not deceived, but judge properly (see John 7:24). The political language of compassion, it not the same thing as real policies that give the poor a chance. Moreover, since the state is an impersonal agency based on coercion, it cannot be compassionate, but it can be just. Individuals, churches, private groups can be compassionate, and should be. When they are taxes up to their eyeballs, they have less to give.

In light of (1)-(8), please vote knowledgeably, wisely, and prayerfully.

And maybe this is a good time to point to this essay that Doug wrote about why he is voting for Mitt Romney on Tuesday. (I featured it about 3 weeks ago)

Excerpt:

Many conservatives (Christian or otherwise), me included, are disappointed that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. They lament that a more principled conservative (such as Michele Bachmann, or, to a lesser degree, Rick Santorum) was not selected. Perhaps they stand for the libertarian principles of Ron Paul. Whatever the case, many will be tempted to not vote at all or to cast a protest vote. This is a deep mistake, based on faulty ideas about politics and the meaning of a political vote. In this short essay, I will labor to convince fellow conservatives, whether Christians or not, to support and vote for Mitt Romney for President. I have waited to endorse Romney until all the other competitors have been eliminated. I do not expect to convert political liberals to this cause, which would require much more argumentation.

Please send this to any Christians who are not planning to vote for Romney!

Doug Groothuis explains why conservatives should unite behind Romney

From Patheos, a MUST-READ post from evangelical philosopher Dr. Douglas Groothuis.

Excerpt:

Many conservatives (Christian or otherwise), me included, are disappointed that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. They lament that a more principled conservative (such as Michele Bachmann, or, to a lesser degree, Rick Santorum) was not selected. Perhaps they stand for the libertarian principles of Ron Paul. Whatever the case, many will be tempted to not vote at all or to cast a protest vote. This is a deep mistake, based on faulty ideas about politics and the meaning of a political vote. In this short essay, I will labor to convince fellow conservatives, whether Christians or not, to support and vote for Mitt Romney for President. I have waited to endorse Romney until all the other competitors have been eliminated. I do not expect to convert political liberals to this cause, which would require much more argumentation.

His list of points are:

  • we have to be realistic about the alternatives
  • protest votes are wasted votes
  • the differences between Democrats and Republicans are HUGE
  • Romney is far more preferable to the alternative

I highly recommend this post.

Here’s just a fragment I liked because it touches on religious liberty, which is my core concern:

Third, the essential principles between the two parties, however each candidate may vary from them, are sharply divided. Democrats support a larger government and heavier taxation and regulation. They view the Constitution as a wax nose they twist any way they want (progressivism), pit corporations and “the wealthy” against “the common man” (call it class warfare, a holdover from Marxism), and support a weakened national defense (the only area of the federal government Obama is trying to cut). They do not support religious liberty, and they are pro-abortion with a vengeance. Under ObamaCare, every American would be subsidizing the killing of innocent human beings with their own tax dollars. Ponder that, for God’s sake. It denies the First Amendment (by requiring many religious people to violate their religious principles) and sets a dangerous precedent for state intrusion into matters of religious conscience. Further, the Democratic party in general, and now Obama very pointedly, do not respect heterosexual monogamy as the norm. They favor same-sex marriage, which is not marriage at all.

Republicans support smaller government, lighter taxation and regulation, a higher view of the Constitution as a body of objective truths to be applied rightly today, and the opportunities allowed by a basically free market. They advocate a strong national defense (or “Peace through strength,” in Reagan’s formulation) and are much more pro-life. This means a Republican president is far more likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who honor the Constitution and oppose Roe v. Wade; to appoint dozens of federal judges with great influence, all of whom are likely to have a high and proper view of the Constitution; and to use executive orders (whether or not they are constitutional; they probably are not) in the pro-life cause, such as refusing to give foreign aid in support of abortions abroad and refusing to fund abortions in the military. While there are exceptions, Republicans support the historical and traditional family. While they grant all citizens the rights enumerated in the Constitution, they do not support same-sex marriage.

I feel that Dr. Groothuis has earned the right to be featured here because of his longstanding support for Michele Bachmann, and then later Rick Santorum when Michele dropped out. I think his post is realistic, and explains the real alternatives facing Christians and conservatives. There are few Christians I respect more on worldview and policy matters than Doug Groothuis, and he is the author of one of the top books on Christian Apologetics.

What I really liked about this article is how many books that Doug referenced, including David Freddoso’s book “The Case Against Barack Obama“. That book was one of the reasons why I started blogging in January of 2009. If everyone knew the real Barack Obama, then no one would vote for him. It’s a lack of knowledge that causes people to vote for him. Anyone who knows his real record and affiliations knows that he is totally unqualified to run so much as a lemonade stand.

Douglas Groothuis’ exhortation to Christians to study apologetics

Dr. Groothuis’ article lays out 6 “enemies” to the task of apologetics. I’ll look at the first 4.

Enemy #1: We don’t defend God’s existence and character to other people

If we really cared about God like we say we do, then we would care enough to defend his reputation in public. If we really loved our neighbor and believed that they need to follow Jesus in order to be reconciled with God, we would tell them that. But we don’t really care enough about God when his reputation is slammed in public. That’s what being a good friend to God and to our neighbor requires.

Groothuis writes:

Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this “offends” them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another “offends” them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15).

Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was “greatly distressed” when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God “so loved the world” that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18).

Enemy #2: We separate Christianity from the reasons and evidence that ground it

Many Christians alter their theology in order to “get along” with other religions that conflict with ours. Instead of wrestling with the competing truth claims of other religions, some Christians just change the nature of our religion so that it is just our personal preference or cultural narrative, instead of being about truth. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret that historically testable claim so that it’s only true for us. If the Bible says that the universe began to exist, we reinterpret that scientifically testable claim so that it is only true for us.

Groothuis says:

For some Christians, faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument. Worse yet, for some faith means belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. The more irrational our beliefs, the better–the more “spiritual” they are… When Christians opt for irrationalism, they become just another “religious option,” and are classified along with Heaven’s Gate, the Flat Earth Society, and other intellectually impaired groups.

Enemy #3: We don’t take the time to study the reasons and evidence we have

We don’t make time for preparing a defense for our beliefs by leveraging the resources produced by Christian scholars.

Groothuis says:

Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics… Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with nonChristian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods.

Enemy #4: We would rather be liked by people than be a friend to God

Somehow, we have gotten the idea that the purpose of Christianity is for us to be happy. Being popular and accepted by non-Christians makes us feel happy. Moral judgments are divisive, so we avoid making those. Exclusive salvation is divisive, so we avoid exclusivity. All of this so that our lives will be easier and happier.

Groothuis says:

In our pluralistic culture, a “live and let live” attitude is the norm, and a capitulation to social pressure haunts evangelicalism and drains its convictions. Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being “nice” and “tolerant” than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Not enough evangelicals are willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public settings. The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians (in our hearts), but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.

You can read the rest of the article here.