Monday, April 28, 2014

Why has the Pro Life movement met with so little success?

Why is the pro- life movement continuing to argue to so little effect?  Why is it that in Canada even our most conservative federal party which has been in power since 2006 is unwilling to open any discussion which might associate them to our cause?

It is not because we are wrong.  We have long been convicted that abortion kills a human, and advances in science have only confirmed this conviction. The idea that it is not a human life is almost inarguable in any field of debate.  For this reason our opponents don’t bother to make that argument. 

I think it is because we market our message wrongly.  How do we sell the pro life message to our audience?  Remember that in a democracy for a change to happen a majority of people have to desire that change- at least theoretically.   So just pointing out the fact that we are correct is not enough.  People have to want to side with us.  I think in that battle much of what we do is futile, and in some cases even counter-productive.

We know that we live in a secular society, and that due to the popular interpretation of ‘separation of Church and state’ a majority of people, even religious people, think that a purely religious idea should not affect policies.  For too long we have tied our message so deeply to the Christian faith that people have interpreted it to be a merely ‘religious’ conviction, and as a religious conviction it cannot influence policy.  Advocates of abortion have used the label ‘religious right’ against us, and to great effect.

But even if we are aware that making our message a religious message is counter-productive, many of us are carrying religious assumptions into our debate!  Our message is essentially “Abortion is wrong because it destroys a human life.”  But that statement makes 2 essentially religious assumptions- that there is such a thing as objective morality, and that there is a particular dignity to human life.  If you assume a completely secular world view, it would be tough to defend either of those assumptions.  Ask yourself why you believe in objective morality, or in the inherent dignity of human life, and I think you will find these ideas are rooted in religious ideas.

Pro-lifers always challenge their opponents by asking “What difference is there between a born baby and an unborn baby?”  Whether their opponents can articulate it or not, the difference isn’t  in size, level of development, environment or degree of dependency.  The difference is that no one can empathize with a baby in the womb.  And empathy is the root of morality for a pure secularist!

I would put it to you that most people, who have the secularist assumptions whether they know it or not, determine which cause is just and moral based on empathy.  They cannot empathize with the baby-  but they can empathize with the mother.  If we are perceived as being unempathetic to the mother, then we are perceived as being nasty and immoral people.  And it is for this reason that we have gotten so little traction.

If my daughter got pregnant, and had an abortion, and went through all of the associated stress and guilt and shame… and you called my daughter a murderer, or compared her to a Nazi, or thrust an image of an aborted fetus in her face…. I would punch you in the head. (Ok, so I probably wouldn't actually punch you in the head... but I would want to!)  I think that as a movement we cannot afford to be the people that everyone else wants to punch in the head.

So I think we have 2 challenges before us in the fight for life. 1. We need to create empathy for the unborn child. 2. We need to demonstrate that the pro-life movement is the one that cares about the mothers.

Practically speaking, how do we do that? In part, I want to leave that with you.  If we as a pro life movement can start thinking about how to create empathy with unborn babies, and how to love women better, maybe we can get some momentum.  If you believe as I do that this issue is in many ways the trump issue of our times, than maybe we need to start putting more time and resources into the organizations that are meeting those objectives.  Groups that are making 3-D ultrasounds available, or groups that are showing support for moms, like Crisis Pregnancy Centres or the Back Porch, or groups that provide support to women who have had abortions, like Project Rachel.  There are so many good things happening in the pro life movement!

We are the ones who are standing both with the babies and with the mothers!  It's time to re frame the debate so that every politician, media personality, and public figure is proud to stand with us!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

If God is omnipotent, can He create a rock that He cannot lift?

If God is omnipotent, can He create a rock that He cannot lift?  Does the existence of objective morality prove the existence of God? Is the anthropic principal proof for the existence of God?  Why is the universe intelligible?

I've been thinking about all of these questions lately, and I think I just stumbled on a single answer that deals with all of them...

The first question can be rephrased like this-  if God is all powerful, can he create a logical inconsistency?  Can he declare that 2 + 2 = 5?  I have long held that He cannot, but this is not a limit on his power, but a constraint that logic puts on reality.  As Tobias noted in "The Battle for Moriah"-  "Logic is the form of truth, truth is the matter of logic."  So logic and truth are interdependent!

As for objective morality-  a lot of people seem to argue that the fact that there is an objective moral law implies that there is an objective moral law giver.  So if you agree that the fact that Hitler shipped Jews to concentration camps was wrong, despite the fact that many Germans agreed with it, that even though cultural values can shift some things are wrong anyway-  than you agree that there is an objective moral law.  But the thing is, I don't want a God who dictates morality-  I want a God who is Himself subject to morality!  I don't believe that God can declare that genocide is right any more than He can declare that 2 + 2=5.  I know that I just opened a whole different can of worms, but I'm going to keep going...

The Anthropic principal is the idea that Earth seems so perfectly, uncannily suited for human life, it must have therefore been created for it.  The response is, of course, that human life sprang out of this environment, rather than the environment being created for us. But people can extend it further and talk about how actually all of the physical laws in the universe seem fine tuned towards the sustaining of life!  That if any law were off by just the slightest degree, the whole universe wouldn't work properly... and so we couldn't then exist.  Therefore God must have dictated the laws of physics so that everything could work. Naturalists, who don't believe in God, have had to address this extremely unlikely principal as well, and have posited that maybe there are actually billions of universes, in what is called the "Multiverse", and that since there are then only one of them would have to have the qualities necessary for life, and that one is, of course, the one we happen to live in.  But that is mere speculation, of course.

Then there's Einsteins famous quote "The most unintelligible thing in the universe is that it is intelligible."  Like what are the chances that life could evolve completely by accident, to a point where it could not only discuss these questions, but actually discover the answers?  

Anyway, I am not going to bother trying to prove the existence of God on any of these grounds right now.  But I think I had a cool insight- Jesus is the "Word made flesh".  In greek the word "Word" is "Logos".  As in "Logy" at the end of many scientific disciplines titles, (biology, anthropology, etc) or as in Logic.  So if Jesus is the Logic....

It says that all things were created through him. So then all things should be logical.  And they are!  And being created in His image and likeness, we have the ability to comprehend them.

But wait, there's more!

God the Father's proper name in the Bible is YHWH-  likely a derivation of the verb "to be".  In other words, his proper name is "Existence"  (hence I am who am.)

So everything that exists exists because the Father exists, and nothing could exist without the Father.  But because the Father exists, the son necessarily exists- hence eternally begotten by the Father, but is con substantial with the Father.... you can't have existence without logic.

Which makes me wonder if the laws of morality are like the laws of Physics or Math or Logic-  necessities of existence- and thus found in the Word?

But on the other hand, the Spirit is personified wisdom... maybe that is where the morality is seated?  This still gives it a necessary existence, that cannot be dictated.  That way morals just are what they are.  And the more we respond to the Spirit, the more our own will will conform to that of God.

But then consider that God is love-  what is morality if not love applied logically and with wisdom?

Which taps into another question.. about the nature or conscience.  Maybe rather than determining morality, conscience discovers it, and just as the mathematical part of our brain can compute better if it is trained, so our conscience has to be trained so that it can recognize the truth of morality.

I have a suspicion that someone could write an entire PHD thesis on these ideas-  but for now I will just submit them to the void and see what insights come back!