I was thinking about the pro-life argument in the shower this morning. More specifically, I was thinking about the shape of the thing that the pro-life argument is arguing against.
Let’s face it. The argument is rather one sided. We’re doing all the talking. When I say talking, I mean, we are the only ones even attempting at a dialogue– no matter how much the other side claims to be “open to dialogue”. While they are saying a lot of words, they aren’t trying to relate to us. They are simply exclaiming how foolish and repressed we are. Some are more sophisticated in this recital than others.
They won’t relate to us, and they don’t even have to relate to their own constituents. All their constituents need is a desire to act– in the way they want to act– and say the approved things. That way, they don’t even have to explain themselves. When they do talk, it’s mostly about deriding the other side, and proclaiming how free they feel. It has nothing really to do with us, and nothing to do with motives– just feelings and words that might mean something different next week. The rest is just disdain and hatred.
It’s easy to defend yourself if you aren’t actually looking for a fair exchange of ideas to begin with. It is easy to win the argument when you have no stakes in the argument. The abortionist already has what she wants. She just wants more of it. In the end it sounds like a disagreement on a playground between a bully and a teacher– if the bully doesn’t care about being in trouble.
So how successful have we been, in this one-way conversation?
I will say that we have made impressive strides, considering what we are up against. I think those strides have very little to do with our actual arguments– save an important, but specific case. Or perhaps I should say, that our arguments win converts in retrospect. You do see anecdotes of our arguments making an impact, but I think the majority of people who have started calling themselves pro-life do so out of a survivor’s mentality. “If you can’t value my sister or brother, how can you value me– for real?” Later, they find our proclamations and realized that they secretly believed what we were saying since the beginning. I’m not saying they didn’t, I’m just saying that it is the survivor mentality that brings them back to recognizing reality.
Because, you see, the majority of those on the other side don’t think to value Life in the first place. Or rather– life is valuable only when they value it. What they decide to value is the only thing that has value. If they don’t value fetuses, then they are irrelevant. To care about something is to bring it into existence. This is the ultimate danger of moral relativism. It gives you a blank check to forget and devalue all those things which are inconvenient.
The attitude is generally that life is cheap. It was a slogan of feminists in the 1970’s, and I think it came out of a pseudo-scientific theorizing in anthropology. A disastrous misreading of Aldous Huxley could certainly bring you to that conclusion. This is where the dangerous warp of Pelagianism starts to reveal itself.
So what does dispensing with the absolute value of life– in a purely utilitarian fashion– have to do with Christian heresies? It seems entirely nonsensical– if one has given Philosophy a miss.
Pelagianism is the belief that humanity has to make itself worthy of Christ. That is, it is only by following a certain rule-set (to the letter) that God will deign to give us eternal life. The rest of us are just trash. In case you were wondering, many of these heretics didn’t even believe in sin. Yet– they were often the most stringent–nearly barbaric in their penances. They’d entirely written off the concept of mercy– because they had to become perfect like Christ. And humans are intrinsically flawed, so the battle was uphill, vicious, and often horrific. It has left an indelible stain on Christian history. So how does this affect utilitarians who only think of God in the abstract– if at all?
It’s largely due to a fact they frequently wont’ admit to– that is, that human frailty is so consistent throughout time. Because, if Life doesn’t have value– you have to go out and make it have value. This doesn’t appear to be a bad thing. But there are a constellation of reasons why having a combination of ever-present mercy and having a defined static value outside of “Humanity” is vital– to both sanity, and humane behavior.
For one thing, we often have scrupulosity, which kicks in when difficult problems rear their ugly heads. What this means is an obsession with the letter of the law– often going above the law as written to punish. This often happens when one MUST see positive results but has no idea what the problem actually is.
This is where another flaw of humanity comes in– our limited attention and perceptions. NO matter how much access to information we may ever get, we are stuck with as much as we can internalize and process. We might even hear the right data, but picking the valid data is much harder. How do you know how to weigh what you know? Omniscience is the only way to be sure. We don’t got that. We never will.
This is particularly poignant when the favored mode of reforming mankind in this day and age is to use Government like an axe to shape Humankind into the form one favors. In truth this is also more common to humanity than we’d like to admit, but– that’s another show.
I will point out that the State only has one power– that is, the power of coercion. That is, a big loaded gun pointed at every citizen. Oh, and I suppose they can hand out cash, too. (But they don’t do that job very efficiently– it has to grease a lot of palms before it gets to the ultimate recipients.) But we are still talking about the value of mankind. When Society, as defined as the State, is given leave to judge the value of a human life–outside of norms within the Legal system (where people are judged by their peers in this country)– that sets us up for certain predictable set of outcomes.
This means– woe to you who wastes your life! We shouldn’t worry our little heads about what ‘wasting life’ actually means, “experts” from above will happily supply the answer. The issue is so complex, that definitions will change day by day. People will be so ignorant that they won’t see that the definitions are sometimes contradictory and change like clothing fashions.
First it will be the aged, disabled and the infirm who are irrelevant– then forgotten. Those that don’t’ look human– don’t walk and talk, who are entirely helpless, are already irrelevant. After that, it will be those who simply sit around and do nothing– whether they are writers, the depressed, the lonely, or the lazy. They offer nothing to society, so they must be removed from society. If we throw them out– they will suffer, so naturally, the most compassionate thing to do is kill them.
Because the only thing we can agree on is that suffering is bad. Though Christians have a warped (by Natural standards) perspective on this. We say that suffering has to do with love. The Skeptic retorts: what sort of evidence is there in the world for that? Suffering is just ugly and shameful, so we kill it. All the better when we can kill the cause of it. Some might object that this is a pessimistic view. So why are we already doing it? Look at the “hospitals” in England and call my bluff. Please.
The final phase of Modernism has ceded the philosophical field to be entirely without value. That means there is no good reason to do anything– nor any good reason not to do something. And that is a yawning door welcoming more than all the oppression, suffering and horror than the progressive thought cloud can digest– certainly more than they suffer with if prevented from doing a murderous thing without consequences.
So– instead of looking at sex as an amazing and sometimes annoying mode of self-expression, let’s get hep to reality. The cries for “authenticity” are really just an acknowledgement that one is lost in a realm of baseless ideas– and need a dose of truth.
Let’s look at a pure thought-experiment. What if a girl wanting an abortion had to strangle a kitten first? Betcha the numbers would go way down. How much more should your own flesh and blood be worth? Did you really have sex with a man who’s children mean less to you than a life of leisure?
That’s right– having sex is serious business. That is why it was so rigorously protected. Virtue was so viciously defended because you are mucking with life and death. At one time, women could easily die in childbirth. Did you want your beloved female relative to die for a cad who used her for an evening of pleasure– that might kill her? Yeah, guys get off easy, and that’s not fair. But all of those weird strictures in traditional society were designed to protect women. That’s right, you heard me. Not protect the poor dears from a good time, but protect them from the inherent imbalance of nature. Not all men are jerks. We should punish the jerks, not all men just for being born. Admittedly, the latter is more satisfying when you need to make somebody pay– and you don’t care who it is, as long as it isn’t you.
Give it a few more years, and the fleshpots of Rome will have nothing on us. They, at least, had grounds upon which to argue– reasons why, and value systems to uphold– for demonstrable reasons. All we have are sophisticated distractions to stave off our fear and discontent until death comes.
Sadly, philosophy was how we came up with any objective and reasoned value to begin with. It’s how we decided that our observations in Science MEAN SOMETHING. Hint: Science used to be called “Natural Philosophy” for a very good reason– and not because “folks were stupid/ignorant in those days.” An objective value system, and a robust mental test bed helps us spot falsehood, and self-deception. It is indispensable for defining
what is scientific, and what is not. And every time we have abandoned it– either collapse or horrors result.
It hasn’t been since pagan times that religion and reason were so entirely separate. Today it is separate only in the minds of those who criticize religion itself. Sure there are a few people in the Christian world today with a literalist bent, but I think their sincerity is of more value than it’s counter example, that is, a skepticism so pervasive that it knocks out the very pillars that were supposed to hold it up. Too many of our so called scientists attempt to kick over the very pillars that supported their starting point for the sake of disproving the ‘impossible’. Good thing the egos there are so inflated– the structure fails to notice that the supports are gone, because it now floats entirely on hot air. So these free-floating ideas may move to and fro wherever it may go. We have entirely lost the sense of what it was trying to express in the first place other than “Non Serviam”.
Certainly this move away from grounded reason is a popular today. Why, because it’s easier. There’s a lot less to learn, and you can “follow your heart” without examining your actions and motives in the light of a consistent value system. You can focus on what’s really important without fear of being immoral. Focusing on your motives might make one feel bad– and we can’t have that.
So looking into this pit of despair, how is it that we can even begin to have a dialogue? I clawed my way out of this insanity out of a pure and desperate need not to destroy myself. I got out by grace of God, but what? You say it’s irrelevant? I say I wouldn’t have gotten out without it– not just by belief or fact, but both in concert.
Before this radical and confusing move, I was split in two pieces, ever at war with each other. On the surface, I believed that I had values. Deep inside I knew I had none, and saw not a thing in the leftist thought cloud to dissuade me of this notion.
Sure, there were value words that had red flag outrage triggers– but they changed with the seasons. More and more, it was about what experts said, and they felt no compunction to show their work, prove what they said was right, or demonstrate that they would work in the real world. They wouldn’t even define the reasoning behind their value judgments. Because if you called it a value judgment– the position would melt like ice in a laser beam, and the inquisitive would be viciously rebuffed for daining to be “judging”.It’s all double-think. It all comes out of the nightmares of Huxley and Orwell. The Modernist believes in progress, because the idea of struggling with the same ideas as his parents and great grandparents did is too much shame to bear. After all, if we aren’t progressing, we don’t have value– and thus we have no reason to be. Oh, the joys of Humanism!
And without God, without objective value– being a figment of your own imagination just doesn’t have the same urgency. So why not do… whatever? You’ll feel better, and not worry about those vague feelings that tug at your soul– that try to see something greater in what’s around you. That nagging feeling that it’s something bigger than you, bigger than society, bigger than Government, bigger than Humanity– even bigger than the yawning need that keeps you going to that job (or looking for that job) or school every day.
If you don’t have a sense of that– that is, table truths, reality being real, abstract things that are more important than my desires or “needs”, and there being things more important than Humanity (Humanity being defined as all human beings throughout history– not just specialized classes, some of whom are more valuable than others)– then we have no basis to relate. Period.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that “what’s best for society” arguments will work here at all. First of all, because no one (on the other side) is willing to define “good” outside of a few empty value words that themselves go undefined. You simply can’t have a reasoned debate over empty words. Compound that with Government, which has already decided that it is society, and a lot of people seem convinced of that. So they follow along gamely, feeling like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, when they have no sense that they are just being used by government to get more power. OR maybe they figure that being used for more power is the best they can get. My God, how much power could one cabal of people actually need?
You can try to tell me that Eugenics is dead. But I think that people are still trying to write the flaws of humanity out of the genome– by convincing poor girls that child in their wombs are too much of a burden for such a sweet thing to bear. She shouldn’t torture herself with the terrible burden of pregnancy and child-rearing. She wants to believe it– so the Expert can make all the problems go away. Be free my child, to do… what, exactly? I’m sure they will get around to telling you eventually. After all– they helped you out of the kindness of their pocket book. Now you owe them– forever.
So they need enough power to perfect Humanity. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. When will they tell us what perfection means? We had some idea back when we could believe in God. Even so… it seems colossally ironic if we wind up killing off our own species– all for the oppressive failure to be perfect.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t talk about our beliefs or persuade others to believe (and/or Believe) as we do. I’m saying, that against such odds, we can’t save ourselves. We will die in big ways and small in failure. because ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you say you believe. Even the Modernists explicitly believe that what you say you believe is irrelevant.
What we have is a relationship with a God of Love– who IS Love. And sin is just another way of saying that people will always be imperfect– it’s in our nature. God knows a thing or to about that– by accepting his Grace, is the only way we can get out of making the same old mistakes. It is something we need to work on, with God– not because we are bad, but because we love Him.
The specter of a judgmental god is merely a shade from heresies past. Sins of the fathers visited on the children. The upshot being, intimidated people are easier to control. And Governments always know that, and will use anything to make people easier to herd. This is why Jesus said, “Give unto Cesar what is Cesar’s; Give unto God what is Gods.” This was also where the idea behind the separation between Church and State. It is not a freedom from religion, but the freedom to to express your faith without worrying about the State getting involved. When that changes, it’s another sign that oppression is right around the corner.
Our culture has been so swaddled in mercy and comfort for so long, it has no concept of what it cries out for when it demands an eye for aye, a tooth for a tooth. Heck, we can’t even tell the difference between Love and various sexual transactions. Since the initial negative consequences of going back to a State of Nature doesn’t affect those who are making the decisions, things will keep going until they are either burned by the flame they play with, or… their base of support dies off.
There are no winners or losers in the culture war. There aren’t any skirmishes, battles or measurable contests outside of who gets to record history. This means we will never know who really came out ahead in the end. Because you will either see the abyss– or your own echo chamber.
Yet, there are winners and losers on who’s word guides the Law of the Land. In the Law, you always have winners and losers. In a just society, the Rule of Law is based on Principles. Principles like the right to life. It says it right in the Declaration of Independence, which while not law per-se, is a document guiding the spirit of the Law, which is why we hold it in such esteem. Sooner or later, people will start realizing that those words mean something, and that they affect not only what happens to the people they don’t care about, but to them, their loved ones, and generations to come.
And in the end, those who reproduce will win. If we teach our children the reason for reason and how necessary understanding “These Truths we find self-evident” really are. Because freedom is more than a political slogan. It’s about knowing that you can rest assured that someone can’t act without consequences on the notion that you are irrelevant.