Tag Archives: Moral Relativism

Abortion debate: a secular case against legalized abortion

Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old
Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old

Note: this post has a twin! Its companion post on a secular case against gay marriage is here.

Now, you may think that the view that the unborn deserve protection during pregnancy is something that you either take on faith or not. But I want to explain how you can make a case for the right to life of the unborn, just by using reason and evidence.

To defend the pro-life position, I think you need to sustain 3 arguments:

  1. The unborn is a living being with human DNA, and is therefore human.
  2. There is no morally-relevant difference between an unborn baby, and one already born.
  3. None of the justifications given for terminating an unborn baby are morally adequate.

Now, the pro-abortion debater may object to point 1, perhaps by claiming that the unborn baby is either not living, or not human, or not distinct from the mother.

Defending point 1: Well, it is pretty obvious that the unborn child is not inanimate matter. It is definitely living and growing through all 9 months of pregnancy. (Click here for a video that shows what a baby looks like through all 9 months of pregnancy). Since it has human DNA, that makes it a human. And its DNA is different from either its mother or father, so it clearly not just a tissue growth of the father or the mother. More on this point at Christian Cadre, here. An unborn child cannot be the woman’s own body, because then the woman would have four arms, four legs, two heads, four eyes and two different DNA signatures. When you have two different human DNA signatures, you have two different humans.

Secondly, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the unborn that is not yet present or developed while it is still in the womb, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, it does not deserve the protection of the law.

Defending point 2: You need to show that the unborn are not different from the already-born in any meaningful way. The main differences between them are: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence. Once these characteristics are identified, you can explain that none of these differences provide moral justification for terminating a life. For example, babies inside and outside the womb have the same value, because location does not change a human’s intrinsic value.

Additionally, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the already-born that is not yet present or developed in the unborn, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, that it does not deserve protection, (e.g. – sentience). Most of the these objections that you may encounter are refuted in this essay by Francis Beckwith. Usually these objections fall apart because they assume the thing they are trying to prove, namely, that the unborn deserves less protection than the already born.

Finally, the pro-abortion debater may conceded your points 1 and 2, and admit that the unborn is fully human. But they may then try to provide a moral justification for terminating the life of the unborn, regardless.

Defending point 3: I fully grant that it is sometimes justifiable to terminate an innocent human life, if there is a moral justification. Is there such a justification for abortion? One of the best known attempts to justify abortion is Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “violinist” argument. This argument is summarized by Paul Manata, one of the experts over at Triablogue:

Briefly, this argument goes like this: Say a world-famous violinist developed a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers found that only you had the right blood-type to help. So, they therefore have you kidnapped and then attach you to the violinist’s circulatory system so that your kidneys can be used to extract the poison from his. To unplug yourself from the violinist would be to kill him; therefore, pro-lifers would say a person has to stay attached against her will to the violinist for 9 months. Thompson says that it would be morally virtuous to stay plugged-in. But she asks, “Do you have to?” She appeals to our intuitions and answers, “No.”

Manata then goes on to defeat Thomson’s proposal here, with a short, memorable illustration, which I highly recommend that you check out. More info on how to respond to similar arguments is here.

Here is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view.

For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

What theory of truth should a Bible-believing Christian accept?

Investigation in progress
Investigation in progress

I was just thinking to myself this week about why I keep running into people who identify as Christians who are open and unrepentant about habitual sin. Now, I’m not perfect, but you don’t see me out there in public saying that the Bible is wrong. I would not claim that some behavior that was condemned by all previous generations of Christians is suddenly ok.

So, I thought and thought and thought about it, and here is what I came up with. Somehow, people have come to a view of Christianity that tells them that Christianity is not something that is true about the universe out there. Instead, Christianity is “true” in the sense that it “works for them”.

So they aren’t saying that God actually exists or that Jesus actually rose from the dead, because they don’t know if those things are objectively true. They’re just saying that they like some Christian words and behaviors because those things make them feel good. Christianity is not something they could defend as objectively true to any non-Christian using reason and evidence. They like how the idea of a loving God makes them feel. Or maybe they like invoking the idea of “do not judge” when someone questions their destructive choices or immorality. But they don’t actually submit to these ideas as “true” in the same way that they take the instructions on a medicine bottle as true.

Here’s a post by Aaron Brake at Stand to Reason, that explains three different views of truth. He calls the view that I talked about the “pragmatic view of truth”. He says that the pragmatic view is that things are true if they “work” for the individual. So, in the case of my Christians-who-deny-Jesus-as-Lord, these people pick and choose things that work for them out of Christianity, e.g. – the love of God, the “do not judge” fragment, the women taken in adultery, etc. But they leave out the moral obligations that Christians have believed for thousands of years, e.g. – no sex before marriage, marriage is between a man and woman for life, divorce is pretty much always unjustified, and adultery is never OK under any circumstances.

Here is the view of truth that he thinks is best:

Finally, there is the correspondence theory of truth: truth is when an idea, belief, or statement matches (or corresponds with) the way the world actually is (reality).

This may rightly be labeled the “common sense” view of truth. While not taught explicitly in Scripture, it is assumed throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The correspondence theory of truth states that an idea, belief, or statement is true if it matches, or corresponds with, reality. In this sense, reality is the truth-maker, and the idea, belief, or statement is the truth-bearer. When the truth-bearer (an idea) matches the truth-maker (reality), they are said to stand in an “appropriate correspondence relationship,” and truth obtains.

Consider the following statements:

  1. Donald Trump is the current President of the United States.
  2. The city of Los Angeles is located in California.
  3. Elective abortion kills an innocent human being.

Are these statements true? They are if, in fact, they match reality. Statement number 1 is true if, in reality, Donald Trump is the current President of the United States. Statement 2 is true if, in fact, the city of Los Angeles is located in California. And statement 3 is true if elective abortion really does kill an innocent human being. Easy enough, right? Aristotle put it this way:

To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.

A Case for Correspondence

Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland notes two main arguments which have been advanced in favor of the correspondence theory of truth: the descriptive and the dialectical.

The descriptive argument simply presents specific cases that help illustrate the concept of truth. For example, in Moreland’s bookstore case, an individual named Joe has the thought “Richard Swinburne’s book The Evolution of the Soul is in the bookstore.” When Joe enters the bookstore and sees the book, he actually experiences truth, a correspondence relation between his thought and reality. Again, this is the “common sense” definition of truth since it is the view we all presuppose in our daily actions and speech; i.e., everyone assumes the correspondence theory of truth when reading a medicine label or dialing a phone number.

That theory of truth is the normal theory of truth, and it’s the one used in the Bible, e.g. – Elijah on Mount Carmel, Jesus calling his resurrection the Sign of Jonah. If the Bible teaches something, then that teaching is true, because it conforms to the way the world really is. Objective reality makes the Bible’s statements true or false. It’s true whether people like it or not.

Here’s what I suspect is true of all the liberal Christians that I’ve met. None of them will have looked into things like the existence of God or the resurrection to see if they are objectively true. They’ll not even be interested in lifting a finger to study in order to find out whether those things are true. If they evangelize, they’ll tell stories about their own life experiences and feelings, and try to “sell” Christianity based on felt needs being met. They’ll not waste a second on studying the laws of logic, or science or history in order to demonstrate Christian claims as true – especially the ones that don’t “ring true” to them.

It makes me think of that post that I wrote about John Searle and his suspicion about why people become postmodern relativists. He thinks it’s so that they can deny reality if reality constrains their will to pursue happiness. I’ve actually seen this when people break all the rules in their selfish pursuit of happiness, and then when it all explodes in their face, they claim that life is unpredictable, and it wasn’t their fault. The rejection of the correspondence theory of truth is – I think – rooted in this desire to dismiss anything that could act as a brake on their hedonism. They don’t care that you can produce studies after studies showing that fatherlessness is bad for children. If God didn’t give them a husband, then they are perfectly justified in having children through a sperm donor, and raising the fatherless child with welfare money. The simplest way out of your Bible verses and fatherlessness studies is for them to say that doing wrong “works for them” and so it’s “true for them”.

Pro-abortion man assaults pro-life woman at peaceful demonstration

Huma Abedin (left), Harvery Weinstein (center), Hillary Clinton (right)
Huma Abedin (left), Harvery Weinstein (center), Hillary Clinton (right)

I’m getting a little annoyed at how pro-abortion men are widely perceived to be superior to pro-life men. These days, men without any moral boundaries are “better”, because they don’t tell women what’s right or wrong. Well, here’s the truth: if a man is willing to put recreational sex above the obligation to care for innocent human beings, then he’s not a good man.

Here’s the video of the assault:

And here’s the story that goes with it, from Fox News.

Excerpt:

Jordan Hunt has been identified as the culprit behind the attack after a video of him spin-kicking the woman went viral. He deleted his social media accounts after the backlash.

In the video, he is seen approaching a group of pro-life activists and engaging them in a discussion about abortion before suddenly kicking an activist and ripping a Campaign Life ribbon off her jacket and fleeing the scene.

[…]Marie-Claire Bissonnette, the 27-year-old woman involved in the incident, is the youth coordinator with Campaign Life Coalition and has since spoken out about the ordeal.

“He kicked me in the shoulder, my phone went flying,” Bissonnette told the Toronto Sun. “I start shouting for someone to call police and before he runs away, he goes up to me and I had a ribbon on my jacket indicating the leader, he tore it off my chest.”

She said that the kick left her with minor pain and those who saw the incident “were in shock.”

[…]“It’s not the first time I’ve experienced physical aggression from people who disagree with our message,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t think it’s acceptable to show any physical violence to anyone who disagrees with you. The perpetrator should know that.”

In the last week, I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets from pro-abortion men who are very angry that their right to have recreational sex “without consequences” might be impacted by the new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Although they make a big deal about being “pro-woman”, they are really thinking about their own ability to have sex without having to take responsibility for their actions.

Let’s think through what a woman should be looking for in a man, by working backwards.

Getting old alone is difficult. So women should be thinking about how to keep a man committed to them after they lose start to lose their youth and beauty. The simplest way to not grow old alone is to invest early and often in a man who does what he promises to do even when it doesn’t feel good. Pro-abortion men are not the kind of men who make commitments that require them to sacrifice their own interests. After all, if a man thinks that it is OK to kill an unborn child in order to maximize his own pleasure, then he can’t be relied upon to put the woman’s interests above his own selfishness.

A good man never tells a woman to put selfishness above moral obligations, either. A good man always builds a woman up, and doesn’t think about what he can get from her first. Good men want to build women up so that it’s safe to commit to them, and to have children with them. Good men know that women need to be encouraged and cared for so that they are able to do the right things. And that means telling women the truth, and telling women “no” if the woman wants to do something morally wrong or reckless. Telling a woman yes when she wants to do something morally wrong isn’t loving her. It isn’t setting her up to be the kind of woman a man can commit to, and build a life with.

Although pro-abortion men seem to be better to feminists today, because they don’t tell women what’s right and wrong, they are actually worse, in the long run. Such men are no good for self-sacrificial love. Women should choose to avoid them, no matter how good they make women feel “in the moment”.

Are all sins equally bad? Or are there degrees of severity for different sins?

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

This question came up recently so I did some digging on theology web sites to find what Bible verses applied to the question.

Here’s what Ligonier said:

It’s clear that we have different degrees of sin when we consider the warnings of Scripture. There are at least twenty-two references in the New Testament to degrees of rewards that are given to the saints in heaven. There are different levels, different rewards, and different roles in heaven. The Bible warns us against adding to the severity of our judgment. Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). Jesus measures and evaluates guilt, and with the greater guilt and greater responsibility comes the greater judgment. It’s a motif that permeates the New Testament.

The idea of gradation of sin and reward is based upon God’s justice. If I commit twice as many sins as another person, justice demands that the punishment fits the crime. If I’ve been twice as virtuous as another person, justice demands that I get more of a reward. God tells us that entrance into heaven will be only on the basis of the merit of Christ, but once we get to heaven, rewards will be dispensed according to works. Those who have been abundant in good works will receive an abundant reward. Those who have been derelict and negligent in good works will have a small reward in heaven. By the same token, those who have been grievous enemies of God will have severe torments in hell. Those who have been less hostile will have a lesser punishment at the hands of God. He is perfectly just, and when He judges, He will take into account all of the extenuating circumstances. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36).

A while back, my friend Dina sent me a sermon where that exact passage (John 19) was brought up by the pastor.

I think the correct position is that any sin is enough to separate you from God, but some sins are more severe than others in God’s objective standard of right and wrong.

OK, that was fine and good, but then I noticed a few days later that Michael Krueger had also blogged about this “all sin are equal” view, too.

Krueger says this:

First, to say all sins are the same is to confuse the effect of sin with the heinousness of sin.  While all sins are equal in their effect (they separate us from God), they are not all equally heinous.

Second, the Bible differentiates between sins. Some sins are more severe in terms of impact (1 Cor 6:18), in terms of culpability (Rom 1:21-32), and in terms of the judgment warranted (2 Pet 2:17;  Mark 9:42; James 3:1).

Even more Bible references, so we’re not on the wrong track.

So then why do some people insist that all sins are equal? It turns out that it is coming from the secular ideal of non-judgmentalism.

Krueger explains:

We should begin by observing that this phrase does not come from Scripture.  People do not use it because it appears in the Bible. Why then do they use it?

One reason, as noted above, is that some Christians use this phrase to uphold the seriousness of sin. It is viewed as a way to remind people not to be dismissive about their sin or regard it is a triviality.

Others use this phrase as way to “flatten out” all sins so that they are not distinguishable from each other.  Or, to put it another way, this phrase is used to portray all human beings as precisely the same.  If all sins are equal, and all people sin, then no one is more holy than anyone else.

In a world fascinated with “equality,” this usage of the phrase is particularly attractive to folks. It allows everyone to be lumped together into a single undifferentiated mass.

Such a move is also useful as a way to prevent particular behaviors from being condemned.  If all sins are equal, and everyone is a sinner, then you are not allowed to highlight any particular sin (or sinner).

Needless to say, this usage of the phrase has featured largely in the recent cultural debates over issues like homosexuality.  Yes, homosexuality is a sin, some Christians reluctantly concede.  But, they argue, all sins are equal in God’s sight and therefore it is no different than anything else.  Therefore, Christians ought to stop talking about homosexuality unless they are also willing to talk about impatience, anger, gluttony, and so on.

Krueger also posted this fascinating follow up post, where he looks at how the phrase is being used by people on Twitter.

Look at these tweets:

  • All sins are equal. People tend to forget that. There is no bigger or smaller sin. Being gay and lying, very equal.

  • all sins are equal in God’s eyes. whatever you’re doing, is no better than what someone else is doing.

  • If you have sex before marriage please don’t come on social media preaching about the wrongs of homosexuality. All sins are equal

  • Need people to realize that all sins are equal… don’t try to look down on me or question my faith just cuz you sin differently than I do.

  • Don’t understand why you’re so quick to judge me, when all sins are equal. So much for family..

  • if you think being gay is a sin, let me ask you something, have you not done anything wrong in your life? all sins are equal. we’re sinners

  • Nope no difference at all. All sins are equal no matter what you’re running for. The bible says do not judge lest ye be judged

  • A huge problem I have with religion is the notion that all sins are equal. Like pre-martial sex and murder are the same amount t of bad.

  • people do bad things because they believe that all sins are equal and ~god~ loves y’all equally so he’s going to forgive you naman ha ha ha

  • It a sin to condemn another sinner and their actions. All sins are equal. So what makes you better than the person you’re condemning?

  • I think so b/c having sex before marriage doesn’t make you less of a women then if you waited until marriage.. all sins are equal soo

  • friendly reminder, all sins are equal in gods eyes so you’re not better than I am in any way. please worry about your own sins before mine.

  • People don’t like when I suggest abortion as an option. This is a free country and all sins are equal so mind your business!!!

  • What I do is no worse than wat you do… all sins are equal no matter what it is… a sin is a sin

  • to god all sins are equal so you have no right to compare your sins to someone else’s bc in the end it doesn’t matter

The first thing that I noticed is that premarital sex and homosexuality are the most popular sins. I would think that divorce and abortion would be up there in the rankings, as well.

Something strange has happened in our society such that more and more people want to be led by their feelings, rather than be bounded by rules or standards. When people get caught breaking moral rules, rather than be accountable, they attack the person judging them. They would rather escape the judgment of their peers than admit fault and try to fix the mistake, and do better next time.

It’s so bad now, that the people who have morals and who make moral judgments are seen as the real bad people. The immoral people are on the offense, and even trying to ban people from being able to disagree with them. We’re seeing that with people who are being attacked for defending natural marriage against divorce and redefinition of marriage. In France, they want to make speech critical of abortion a criminal offense. And in Canada, they’ve now made speech critical of the gay agenda a criminal offense. (It’s already a human rights tribunal offense)

What is even more interesting is when the people who push the “don’t judge me” line try to justify it from the Bible. Very strange, but we seem to have forgotten the value of setting moral boundaries. Now moral boundaries are “evil”. Instead, having compassion for people who break the moral boundaries and harm themselves and others is “good”.

CDC reports: STD rates hit all-time high for the fourth straight year

Preliminary CDC numbers for STDs in 2017
Preliminary CDC numbers for STDs in 2017

I’ve been blogging about skyrocketing rates of sexually-transmitted-diseases for the last few years, and particularly how it impacts high risk groups, e.g. – men who have sex with men. The attitude that the culture is taking towards this is to not make any moral judgments, but someone is going to have to pay for all the health care that is required to “fix” this problem.

Fox News reports on the latest numbers:

Sexually-transmitted diseases continue to hit all-time highs in the U.S. with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting a 10 percent spike for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017. The federal health agency said in a report released Tuesday that the numbers, which include nearly 2.3 million new cases of the aforementioned diseases, reflect a “steep, sustained increase” in STDs since 2013.

“We’re sliding backward,” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”

The data, which was presented at the 2018 STD Prevention Conference, found a 67 percent increase in gonorrhea diagnoses, which officials sounded alarm over due to the growing threat of untreatable strains.

The CDC gives us the numbers well enough, but like all government agencies, their attitude is not to tell the selfish adults to behave morally. They blame “stigma and discrimination” for the rise in STDs, and recommend more government as the solution. I.e. – they think that people who disapprove of sex outside of marriage are to blame for the skyrocketing rates of STDs. If we all stopped making the irresponsible, reckless people feel bad with our ignorant moral judgments, then the STD problem would immediately be solved.

Anyway, here is an article that talks about untreatable strains of gonorrhea in particular:

Scientists have found a “superbug” strain of gonorrhea in Japan that is resistant to all recommended antibiotics and say it could transform a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.

The new strain of the sexually transmitted disease — called H041 — cannot be killed by any currently recommended treatments for gonorrhea, leaving doctors with no other option than to try medicines so far untested against the disease.

[…]Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection and if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.

British scientists said last year that there was a real risk of gonorrhea becoming a superbug — a bacteria that has mutated and become resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics — after increasing reports of gonorrhea drug resistance emerged in Hong Kong, China, Australia and other parts of Asia.

Now, I know it’s tempting (for some people who like tolerance) to say that we should let people do whatever they want to do, and not judge them. After all, we can just take some money from the wealthy in order to solve these problems without making anyone feel bad. I hear this a lot from the the “don’t judge” crowd. But this time, it looks like no amount of money is going to solve this problem, and maybe the judgers were right to warn.

Syphilis is also a problem in certain high risk groups:

The sometimes-deadly disease syphilis is exploding in the United States, with most of the increase since 1995 among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new report from the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As recently as 2000, researchers believed the total elimination of syphilis was within reach. The recent dramatic increases in infections, coupled with the observation that syphilis closely tracks with other diseases like AIDS, have the medical and scientific community deeply concerned. The CDC report considers “the increase in syphilis among MSM is a major public health concern.”

According to the report, “During 2005-2013, the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported each year in the United States nearly doubled, from 8,724 to 16,663; the annual rate increased from 2.9 to 5.3 cases per 100,000 population.”

The report also says that “men contributed an increasing proportion of cases, accounting for 91.1% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2013.” Most of the increases came from men who have sex with men, which were responsible for 77% of cases in 2009 but 83.9% in 2012, what the report calls “the vast majority of male… syphilis cases.”

HIV is also a problem for this same group:

A fact sheet released at the end of June by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that HIV rates, already at epidemic proportions, are continuing to climb steadily among men who have sex with men (MSM).

“Gay and bisexual men remain at the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” says Jonathan Mermin, the director of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS prevention.

The CDC notes that while homosexual men make up only a very small percentage of the male population (4%), MSM account for over three-quarters of all new HIV infections, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all new infections in 2010 (29,800).

“Men who have sex with men remain the group most heavily affected by HIV in the United States,” the fact sheet states.

We do have certain segments of the population who think that normal sexuality means having sex with dozens, hundreds and even thousands of partners. Just on the grounds of “they’re hot”. And naturally, these people are at higher risk for STDs.