Category: Philosophy



On Ideas; Not People

“I attack ideas, I don’t attack people – and some very good people have some very bad ideas.” –Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia

Recently, Governor Cuomo of the state of New York signed into law the so-called “Up-To-Birth” abortion bill and in its wake, Alabama and Georgia have voted to ban the practice of abortion. Although the subject of abortion has never left us and continues to be a volatile dividing topic which threatens to fracture, or perhaps, completely destroy friendships and other relationships, the controversy surrounding the issue has been pushed to the forefront of the public consciousness by these events. It has also revealed that within the pro-choice camp there are, indeed, varying degrees of permissibility, with these degrees usually separated by trimester (i.e., abortion is permissible if done within the first, or second trimesters, etc.). In fact, it seems, there are those who are pro-choice who are quite squeamish about the law signed by Cuomo, and it as at least on this foundation the two opposing sides can, perhaps, find a bit of common ground on an issue which generally allows for none. At the same time, there are pro-life people hesitant on bills like the one Alabama and Georgia have passed and other states are considering.

The signing of the Reproductive Health Act, January 2019.

No doubt about it, it is a divisive issue, and in beginning, to make this essay perhaps a bit more agreeable to the critic, I would like to begin by highlighting a couple of things I am seeking to do in my examination of it. I assure the reader that it is my intention to examine the issue and not people. Being pro-life means a lot of challenges are thrown your way, some more valid than others, and I would be quite dishonest with myself and with whoever might take up this essay to say that I haven’t found myself sympathetic to a person’s plight in some circumstances. Truly, there are individual issues, (which I will address), where it might be easier, or rather, quite certainly, it is easier, to critique the issue than to be an actively confronted with it. If my exploration of abortion or any resulting subjects that arise from it seem cold, let me assure the reader it is not the case, and I would implore those interested to remember that I am exploring in a philosophical way the issue itself and not the people. I have absolutely no interest in going after people on a personal level. After all, concerning those who have had an abortion, it is a course of action that cannot be changed, for it has already occurred, and all change must reside in the present and future. This is why I am much more interested in ideas themselves than the people who may hold those ideas and making them a target. Of course, it can be hard to separate the person from the idea because it is people who hold the ideas. Regardless, it is my goal to achieve this, as much as possible, in this work.

There are many ways in which people justify their positions, but not all are applicable. I recall a TV show in which a character expresses that she is pro-life and is answered by another saying that they had no idea she was the religious sort. She denies this and asks if you have to be religious to believe that an unborn child represents a life? He responds by saying there is a correlation. This, I would agree, is accurate to some extent, but as the show points out it is not necessarily the case. The point is, not all people are religious, so when approaching the issue to the general public, one finds an appeal to religion to be lacking. Simply, a non-religious person is not going to be swayed by any religious argument and might be put off instead.

Also, one cannot claim to be objective and not look at the side which holds their position. In doing so, it isn’t as if there haven’t been atrocities committed in the name of the pro-life movement. First off, if you walk into an abortion clinic and murder people, either the patients or the practitioners, you have absolutely no business applying the term “pro-life” to yourself. You are anything but and represent a direct and horrific contradiction of the pro-life view. We also need to perhaps question our methodology in promoting the pro-life position.

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Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr.

Is this to say it should be accepted by pro-lifers? Should we just sit on the sidelines and remain silent then? I would hope it is obvious that this is not what I intend to do. In an effort to refute the challenges and ideas to the pro-life view, I hope to show by addressing the critics that there is a rational basis for the pro-life position, which may produce a bit more good than screaming insults at people in or outside a clinic, merely waving a sign, or trying to block people from entering. I don’t wish to devalue anyone protesting or their passion for the cause, but in my understanding, going after an idea is like a vaccine to a particular action, and it is to here we should start, for it is much more efficient than just fighting the symptoms of a disease that is already caught. You aren’t going to be able to stop the tide by merely setting up a breakwater.

Alderney Breakwater Feb 2016

On The Fringe

Simply addressing the challenges to the pro-life position isn’t enough to produce a case for it. The view needs to stand on its own rational foundation, and I will get into that, but I find that the challenges represent some of the greatest hindrances to accepting the pro-life view. Again, I will address these, and perhaps others I hear during the process of writing this, but here are some examples that are cited to the pro-lifer as a challenge:

A.) Rape

B.) Incest

C.) Birth Defect

D.) Life of Mother

E.) If Outlawed . . .

F.) It’s my body

G.) Bundle of cells

H.). None of your business

Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro pointed out at a Q and A session that these represent fringe issues of the whole and don’t represent the majority of abortions. This is true, but does that mean it is a sound rebuttal? Well, that might be a little more complicated. The father of the discipline of logic, Aristotle, proposed the principle of non-contradiction. This law, in short, says that anytime a contradiction is present, this represents a falsehood or fallacy within the whole of the argument.

Ayn Rand sums it up eloquently and concisely:

“To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.” –Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand Reader, p. 260.

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” –Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p. 152.

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This is likely the view that is taken by pro-choice people when they offer these challenges, that is, they attempt to show a contradiction somewhere in the thinking of the pro-lifer and thus, by necessity, prove that it is false. It certainly might seem to work, for if the pro-lifer says that abortion is not permissible, but admits that it might be so in some other case, in the critic’s mind, it represents a contradiction and it invalidates the whole pro-life argument. So, in that case, and according to that point-of-view, no, it isn’t a good rebuttal.

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Yet, how a pro-lifer may regard it is a bit different, and in this sense, it is a sound rebuttal. In truth, contradiction is much harder to prove then one might suspect, particularly on a philosophical level. Yes, there are simple forms, like when one contradicts their statements in an account or personal anecdote, then we can easily determine they are lying, but in issues like this, it becomes more problematic. The reason why is that in order for a contradiction to exist and be applicable, the particulars need to be virtually identical. One of the ways the charge of contradiction is overcome is to show error on the part of those making the charge that the circumstances are similar or the same. Simply pointing out major differences in situation A from situation B is often enough to validly and soundly counter the charge of contradiction.

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It is on these grounds that Ben Shapiro’s rebuttal was sound, that these are differing circumstances, and are so individual and relatively rare that they represent fringe issues that don’t reflect the vastness of the real circumstances surrounding the majority of the practice. Shapiro addressed this by asking the woman bringing the question if she would agree that in the majority of cases it was wrong, to which she would not agree because she wasn’t willing to limit abortion to the exception to the rule. Therefore, Shapiro reasoned, her line of questioning was simply an excuse. So, in a very real way, how effective this answer by Shapiro is, and those who utilize it, really comes down to your own personal philosophy on contradiction and its relation to truth. However, I seek to build a case for the pro-life view by appealing to both, so I will too address the individual cases which are often cited by pro-choice people, as well as admit that when we talk about abortion, these represent minute fringe circumstances which do not appeal to the whole and don’t represent a contradiction to the pro-life position.

On “In The Case of…”

This is probably the area that gets the pro-lifer in the most amount of trouble and gets the most ire directed their way. To be completely honest, it would be much easier to take the position like I discussed in the last section and write off these fringe examples as inadequate to justifying the whole practice, because some of these can be quite uncomfortable to discuss in both a philosophical way and as a sympathetic human being (by the way I am not suggesting that this was what Shapiro was doing, for I believe he has answered the individual circumstances in other cases). Truly, the pro-life view isn’t unfeeling, for if they were, we would have to ask why these “fringe” examples are so often pressed towards pro-lifers? I suggest part of the reason is because it does make us uncomfortable, and pro-choice people know it does, and if it makes us uncomfortable and invokes feelings, then just like others, we are not unsympathetic to these challenges. What the pro-lifer position believes though is that just because we are sympathetic to someone, or something, it doesn’t mean that a resulting action is justified or right. No, just like law and morality, we need to admit that emotion and rationality are not always in sync. It seems clear that emotion and action can indeed be opposed to each other. This is not said to so much a devalue an emotional response, but rather it is the question of whether it is rational that the emotional response is carried out in action? Either rationality is reined in by emotion, or emotion is by rationality.

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Concerning this, it is rationality that should have authority over emotion. We see the dangers and unreliability of emotion all around us, and even in our personal lives, we can think of times where emotions have got the better of us or led us astray, or where we regret an action that was promoted or prompted by emotion. Again, this is not saying they don’t have value, or even that emotions always imply error, only that to rely on them solely is a mistake. Yet, don’t people also make mistakes being adherent to strict rationality? Absolutely, but this is because rational people make mistakes in determining what is rational, for while we can identify mistakes in the pursuit of what is rational (i.e., as Rand said, we can have a faulty premise), with emotion we cannot. We can only identify it when it hurts us, others, or doesn’t produce the end we desire or anticipate. Thus, while mistakes can be found in determining rationality, it is not the rational that is at fault, but our misunderstanding of it and our own miscalculated errors. Emotion, on the other hand, can be inherently dishonest and wrong. At times.

So it is on the basis of rationality that we appeal. To do otherwise is generally because the view can’t be defended on rational grounds. If you can’t provide a defense on rational grounds, then often it is the case that the next method of justification is to shift the burden of proof and where it lies.

On Defense and Building a Case

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M. C. Escher, “Bond of Union,” 1956.

When offering a defense of a particular viewpoint or issue, or attempting to construct a proof of that view, there are numerous methods that one can appeal to or exercise. The first is what can be referred to as the classical. This defense simply seeks to first determine a proof for an element upon which all other subsequent issues rest. Yet, there are other ways proofs are constructed.

There is the evidential, which seeks to prove something on the basis of pure, empirical evidence.

There is the experiential, which seeks to prove based on someone’s experience. However, it must be remembered that philosophically this approach is generally considered unreliable and represents what’s called the anecdotal fallacy.

There is the historical, which seeks to prove a case based on the historicity of a particular subject.

There is the presuppositional, which seeks to prove based on first making the assumption a view is true and then pointing out either its flaws or its validity. This is also called systematic consistency presuppositionalism. In the science of logic, we can refer to this as a form of indirect proof.

Now, certainly, I think all these will find their place in the construction of my argument, but if I had to classify my attempt, I would classify it as classical and henceforth, we should start with the element upon which many of the others rest. This is presenting a case that the unborn is a life. It should be noted too that these constructs and methods are used on the pro-choice side as well.

On The Life Inside

I was reading a debate online one time and, as I recall, a pro-choice woman was defending her pro-abortion stance, and ended up saying something like the following: “I didn’t give this thing permission, it is merely a parasite stealing my nutrients.” To the pro-lifer, this would almost be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. I don’t recall if the pro-life person offered the fact that even a parasite is a living thing, but regardless it represents how some pro-choice people view that life inside. A parasite. Indeed, I have seen this argument a number of times on Facebook and message boards. We see in that such a statement, great efforts are made to not only avoid referring to it as a life (“thing”), but also deny its value (“parasite”). It may be argued that some people who have abortions fear this “thing” will continue to be parasitic once it is born, not biologically, but to their lives in some degree. It isn’t a powerless and dependent child, but a mere parasite.

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Crepidostomum cooperi

It is the case that biological, familial, or social dependency doesn’t equate to something being parasitic. For one, parasites are invading creatures, living creatures, that do not share the same biological makeup of the host. You do have creatures that can absorb another of its species, I believe there is an angler fish that does this, but in these cases it is an independent being prior and then becomes biologically dependent, even losing some of its organs and mobility in the process. It is not a growing, developing thing, but something being enveloped into another. A baby is a growing developing being, which when carried to term will become independent, in a biological sense, and continue to increase in independence. As much as anything can become independent anyway, for we are all dependent beings in some regard.

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8 weeks

Now that we got the idea of a fetus being a parasite out of the way, let’s move on to offering proof of life. In order to do this, we have to ask the question: What is life? There are a number of ways people approach this question, there is both the scientific and the philosophical. I read a work by one woman doctor, who was pro-choice, that made the admission that it appears by science that life begins at conception, but said it wasn’t that easy, that what determines a life is based on what a person believes is a life, or it represents a philosophical question and not a biological one. While reading it, I must admit that I was almost impressed with her candor on the subject. Many scientific works have been written to support the idea of life at conception, or life approximate to conception.

The American College of Pediatricians stated in 2004:

“The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that human life begins at conception–fertilization….Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species of homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development. The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being from the moment of conception.”When Human Life Begins, American College of Pediatricians, March 2004.

Also:

“In that fraction of a second when the chromosomes form pairs, the sex of the new child will be determined, hereditary characteristics received from each parent will be set, and a new life will have begun.” –G. & M. Kaluger, Human Development: The Span of Life, p. 28-29, 1974.

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We see in the earlier example, the woman who declared the unborn to be both a thing and a parasite, that this both deny the personhood of the unborn, but also devalues it at the same time while removing its humanity and or personhood. It could be said that the even more basic foundation of the pro-life view is that all life is valuable. It doesn’t devalue but promotes value. In fact, in the pro-life position, pure living existence is beyond worth. I am not saying that we do not attribute value to lives based on the actions of a person, I am saying that the condition of living in and of itself is immeasurably valuable. This is applicable here because of the different philosophical ideas on what defines a life, and in order to address these differences as a whole, we will need to appeal to a life’s value, and on this, we will build the case based on potentiality and actuality.

Yet, on a biological basis, the pro-choice doctor is hard-pressed to, by biology alone, science alone, disprove that life isn’t exhibited in the developing body. As a National Geographic video entitled “The Biology of Prenatal Development” declared:

“Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization.”

Young chicken in the chicken coop on the farm

The critic, or those undecided on the issue, may ask about the development and if this presents a challenge? When asked what a life is, one word that is thrown around, is that in order for something to be a life, it needs to be a sentient being. I’ve seen many pro-choice debates and arguments which state that sentience must be achieved before the term life can be applied to it. This condition, analytically, or definitionally, suggests the following:

1) Independence

2) The ability to perceive or sense

3) The state of being self-aware

4) The desire for self-preservation

5) Intellectual capability

6) Mobility

As we can see, to refer to something as a “sentient life” would be a bit of a tautology in this context. Sentience implies life. So, if one asks what makes a child a life, and the answer is life (aka. Sentience), well, that doesn’t really answer much. It sounds better in a rhetorical sense, rather than providing insight into what life is. Yet, in it, they suggest that these sentient characteristics aren’t found in the developing life of a child. We should address each of these to see if this is a worthwhile response to the question of what is life?

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1. Independence I believe is something we have already touched on. Whether something is independent or dependent isn’t quite enough to determine if it is a life or not, simply because, to some degree, all things are dependent. The philosopher William Rowe came to the conclusion that there were at least three forms of being. There were impossible things (things that couldn’t exist because of the law of non-contradiction, i.e., a triangle with four sides), there were cogent things (things that can either be thought to exist or thought not to exist; possible things), and finally necessary things (a thing that must be). In the latter case, you leave the realm of strict philosophy and more into theology and for this reason, we won’t get into that, but needless to say, the cogent thing, the category of which we all belong, does imply dependency. Only a necessary thing can be completely independent. A true sentient being cannot be completely independent, but rather must be dependent, as the other characteristics of the condition show. For instance, much of our intellectual capabilities exist a posteriori, that is derived from experience, and therefore even our knowledge is dependent, to a vast degree, on experience and the world around us.

What about it being biological independence that is implied? Several years ago, I was unfortunate enough to get very sick and I wound up on dialysis due to the shutting down of my renal function. Would this unpleasant experience, in which by use of an umbilical and machine filtered my blood, have made me any less of a life? Certainly, we might ponder how such a frequent treatment might affect one’s life, but we can’t say they cease to be less of a life than anyone else who isn’t dependent on that treatment. Conditions for life, don’t negate the condition of life.

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Earlier in the essay, we also touched on whether a living thing can exist within another living thing, and it is clear it can. Much of what we discuss in this aspect is not so much life but mobility and how that mobility suggests life. To use myself as an example, when I was ill I spent a number of weeks immobile and unconscious. This didn’t negate my life or its value proper, nor would it anyone else. In fact, doctors and nurses work tirelessly to preserve life in such circumstances rather than abandon it. I hope the reader can see that I don’t mean these as direct comparisons, but mean them to show that dependency is a condition of life, and in some circumstances, necessary for it. Rather than independence suggesting life, it often seems that the more dependent a living thing is, the closer to pure being that life exists. Knowledge, wisdom, and experience are the things that we pile onto the tabla rasa of pure being or life proper.

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2. The ability to perceive or have sense perception has been long acknowledged by the scientific community and a number of studies have been done which provide some startling proof of the unborn’s ability to sense and perceive. In fact, it has been long held that frequent reading or certain types of music can be beneficial to the development of the unborn. This is a prime example of some pretty well-known facts about the perception and sense that is found in the life in the womb. Yet, again, we find instances where an inability doesn’t negate life. A person in a comatose state, for instance, isn’t declared a non-life, rather we do all we can to preserve it. This critic might say though, that like the angler fish, it was at first sentient and then lost its independence, and it is desirable that it be restored to the state it already achieved. However, I hope the reader can discern that I am making the argument that an unborn child is analytically and empirically sentient.

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3. The state of being self-aware is labeled as number 3 is almost interchangeable with number 4, that is the desire for self-preservation. The reason why is because when a being is self-aware, self-preservation is often evidence of that awareness. I believe it may be a whole other long topic to discuss the levels and degrees of self-awareness, but in a general sense, these two things go hand and hand. While we understand the basic principle of self-preservation, it remains the case that preservation is not an independent condition achieved by self, but often a dependent condition by which other things are utilized to achieve preservation.

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4. The desire for self-preservation. There have been many people that have been pro-choice and shifted their views to either pro-life, or in some cases, come to admit that the subject isn’t as black-and-white, or cut-and-dry, as they first made it out to be. Often times these shifts are experiential. An avid opposer of Planned Parenthood, the organization that performs the most abortions per year in the United States, changed her opinion on abortion after watching one being performed. Her account says that while sitting in on the procedure and watching it on the monitor, she was quite struck when the unborn child drew back from the instruments that were being used to dismember it, as if in fear and pain. This account has been parroted by several ex-practitioners of abortion, who have come to denounce it. This provides some anecdotal evidence that the unborn are self-aware, have an instinct for self-preservation, and indeed, sense and perceive.

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5. Intellectual capability is often an attribute used to characterize a quality or value of life, rather than life itself, or life proper. In this way, it is often used in a relative sense, but, again, it doesn’t say something is not a life because of a lesser capability, but only assigns a primarily subjective value to it. In the vast majority of cases, a need for self-preservation, and sense, or perception, are used as evidence to denote an intellectual property to being, or a being. However, this is not always the case, as many may say that a tree or plant lacks intelligence, but does seem to be geared towards self-preservation. Yet, in this case, nobody really concludes that botanical things don’t represent life either. One thing we can be reasonably sure about is that intellectual capability isn’t only revealed by what something knows, but the ability to attain knowledge. As the experiments with music and reading, and the whole process of living life show, in fact, is that our intellectual faculties are understood by our ability to learn rather than anything else. That a sentient life must have intellectual capability only means that it have the ability to learn, and this is certainly the case, especially during the latter portions of carrying the child to term.

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6. Mobility also seems to be implied by those arguing sentience. Yet, along with some of the other characteristics, the state of being immobile only applies to a quality of life, rather than life itself. Many people and things are hindered in their mobility, but live fulfilling lives, and this certainly wouldn’t be the case if they ceased to be a life altogether. In fact, one could be justified in saying, in general, young age and old age are both characterized by a lack of mobility. This doesn’t mean that it is invaluable or ceases to be, rather we teach the young to walk, and we seek to prolong the mobility of those who are becoming feeble. It is the case, again especially in later portions of pregnancy, that the life inside becomes increasingly mobile and active, much to the mixed delight and, honestly, the discomfort of the mother. The child’s mobility eventually outgrows the womb.

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You may notice that I am now referencing portions of pregnancy rather than as a whole, but again I have shown that these characteristics, or rather the lack of them, don’t negate life, but at the same time, we do associate life with them. That is why even in the pro-life group, the nearer to term a child is aborted, the more horrendous it becomes. With the signing of Cuomo’s “Up-To-Birth” abortion bill and the blocking of the bill which would make mandatory medical care for a child of a botched or unsuccessful abortion, it becomes actually harmful to the arguments of the pro-choice camp. Indeed, it seems like most of them are completely thrown out the window. A mere choice cannot empirically shift life to a non-life, or a non-life to life. All the choices we make in life are not judged simply on the choice, but how these choices correspond to reality. Choice doesn’t change reality, you’re either correct or you’re not. I find it increasingly true that those backing this bill, and opposing the mandatory medical care for those who survive abortions, is to toss aside the arguments that the pro-choice group has spent years, decades, in fact, formulating.

For these reasons, when a person says that an unborn child, or fetus, or whatever you would like to label it, must be sentient to be considered life, I think it is quite reasonable to conclude that it is sentient, and thus, by their own measure, a life.

On Scientific Backing

Although I have quite railed against independence being necessary for something to be considered life, one cannot help also appeal to these definitions, that is, to both debunk in adherence to, and apart from. To explain further, I find it to be faulty on the basis of the general (i.e., independence isn’t a condition of or for life) and the specific (i.e., it can be shown that independence is applicable to the unborn). For those who might critique me and say that am contradicting myself, I should point out that the former, the general, is a classical or evidential answer, while the latter is a presuppositional form. I would also direct the reader to my previous section on building a case to explain the paradox.

So, in order to further clarify, we should make a distinction between the quality of independence and being individual. These are two different things. A thing can be a singular, individual (not necessarily a person), but be dependent at the same time. This goes to show that individuality doesn’t equate to independence, and dependence doesn’t equate to non-individuality. Certainly, an individual life has certain characteristics which distinguish it from other lives. Of these, we can apply form and mass, and matter, or can appeal to more scientific evidence for individuality, particularly when it comes to living organisms, like genetic makeup, and DNA. Also, when concerning the more complex organisms, organs, skeletal structure, and cellular composition. In addition, individuality can be shown in causality, that is cause and effect. For instance, that which may affect the mother might not affect the newborn, and that which may affect the newborn might not affect the mother.

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If one suggests that individuality must be exhibited in order for something to be independent or be life, then this is both shown on the philosophical level, and on the scientific level. It is immediately at or approximate to conception that the unborn has its own individual genetic code and DNA.

“The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual’s unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.”National Geographic, “In The Womb” (Video).

It is a matter of 5 ½ to 6 weeks when the child’s heartbeat can be detected.

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Sure, we can distinguish life apart from such complex organs, but they are certainly attributed to human life, and it is this life which quickly becomes apparent. It is an interesting subject because in a world so devout to science and the pursuit of it, in certain areas, it becomes chiefly ignored for the sake of things like “choice.” However, I recall I said that I would refrain from making this about people and just about the issue itself, so I will depart from this particular train of thought because I perceive it might lead up into the opposite.

On Arguments Against The Pro-Life Position

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Julio Ruelas, “Critica“, 1907.

I suppose it is difficult to address the whole of these opposing sides, pro-choice and pro-life, in such general terms. One must recognize that it is likely that people of the pro-life view, and the pro-choice view, disagree with certain aspects of those arguments which are used by the side that they are aligned or associated with. As I said, it is sometimes hard to address people and ideas separately, and I really don’t like having to paint a whole group of people with one broad brush stroke. So, if I have characterized anyone who reads this and they are thinking, “This isn’t me at all,” I could only ask for your patience and to share your individual thinking with me in the comments, but I only ask that you might be respectful as I have tried to be.

It would be quite unsound for me to think or say that I believe I am going to answer every argument out there against the pro-life position. I am not that prideful, nor delusional. I have heard many clever arguments against the pro-life position, but I believe that the ones I offer here are the most applicable. What I mean is that is quite often those clever examples are reducible to these issues which I will address, but, again, to make the suggestion that these are all the arguments out there would be quite a gullible and suggestion. If anyone has any further arguments, I would be most open to hearing them.

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Once more, before we get into it, I understand how easy it is for me to sit at a keyboard and talk on these topics without ever having set foot in the shoes of those who have endured these oft brought up examples. My sympathies, in a number of these examples, are quite profound. Further, I must mention that an exploration of these issues kind of surprised me, in that the ones I thought were going to be easy to refute, became quite difficult, and the ones I thought would be difficult, ended up being a little less complex than I had imagined. All and all an exploration of these issues brought a few surprises.

On The Case of Rape

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It should be evident to the reader by now that I won’t adhere to the “fringe circumstance” argument that Shapiro used to address one of his questions. I do believe it has some validity, but this is primarily to ones who have already been convinced on the soundness of the pro-life argument. To those not convinced, these are issues that need to be addressed. Out of these, the case of rape is a large and looming one.

I was somewhat pro-choice at one time but held that it shouldn’t be used as a form of birth control. I haven’t completely abandoned that position, in that, I have ideas that have carried over from one side to the other. I recall and still hold to the idea that the consequences of the committed abortion would fall greatly upon the rapist rather than the victim. For instance, I believe those found guilty of rape are punished way too lightly for us to be called a “civilized” society. Not only do I want increased punishment for rapists, but if a pregnancy resulted, I think they should be punished twice over. I bring this up because I hope that it goes to show that I am not completely unsympathetic to the plight and torment that such victims may have to go through. Far from it.

Indeed, the impregnated victim of rape could perceivably consider that child an unwanted token of a horrific event in their lives, and would not, therefore, be treated as wonderfully as a child deserves. This is at least one argument I have heard regarding this tragic example, and in it are a number of elements I think might be the case, but notice that implicit in it is the idea that children deserve to be treated in a moral way. The argument goes beyond this, of course, but it is interesting to note that it admits to the value and worth of a child in declaring that it deserves to be treated in a certain way.

Yet, this is only one aspect. Another says, that because the child was conceived during an unwilling, and unlawful, and traumatic event, the victim is justified in terminating the pregnancy through means of abortion. This is chiefly an appeal to emotion. Why this is the case is that it implores us to understand the decision by appealing to our sympathies. Yet, in our emotional understanding of the decision, does this mean the decision is rational? It does not.

Here is where the classical proof comes into play and it comes down to the following. If the unborn represents a life, then it is not rational and, sorry to say, unjustifiable. If it does not represent life, then, well, frankly, most abortion is justifiable. I sought to show, albeit in brief, that on both a scientific and philosophical basis, it is reasonable to conclude that the unborn are analytically alive. Thus, it would be unjustifiable. Allow me to explain further.

Given that the unborn represents a life, it has a certain intrinsic value, this is why the rape victim is a victim, because her life too has intrinsic value and it is not just the body that is harmed when someone is raped, but all elements of their lives. It is their future that is victimized and I, again, would like much stricter penalties on those who commit rape than we currently have. A brief period of time in prison, a release with flyers going out to the community doesn’t seem like enough, and I think this is an issue where we could all agree. That being said, an attack on an innocent party doesn’t facilitate or rationally excuse another. In the case of these examples, you wind up with, essentially, three parties. The rapist, the victim, and the unborn. That the woman is victimized doesn’t justify the harming and victimization of another innocent party. The stealing of one parties innocence doesn’t necessitate or excuse the trespassing of another.

I think we have a pretty moral understanding of this. We make concessions when a victim attacks the perpetrator who victimized them, but we don’t when it is an outside and innocent party. A woman whose life is victimized by a rapist, going after her rapist and taking his life, sorry to say, I am not going to be too sympathetic toward him on that one, but if she murders his children, well then I am going to say that is not justifiable in any sense. It just comes down to this, if you are a victim then you deserve all the sympathy and all the help in the world, but it doesn’t give you the justification nor right to harm innocent life. What to do about the child once it is born? Well, those are issues that raise some difficulty, but difficulties don’t allow for the harming of innocent lives. They need to be tackled on their own and I would suggest that the issue of what one does with a child, an unwanted child, is an issue that extends past abortion, but to suggest abortion is the only avenue is quite disingenuous.

It also isn’t universal that women who have been raped abort their children. Now, this can’t be considered a pro-life argument per se, it’s an anecdotal fallacy, but it does show that support, advice, guidance, and help to those in such a terrible situation may be available, and practical, to those who need and may benefit from it.

On The Case of Incest

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In all likelihood, and for good reason, the following this one will make most people squeamish. Yet, it is worth addressing because, not only does it include a couple other of the arguments we will visit, but also, its a subject that has been increasingly popping up due to the “love is love” movement, if you will, becoming increasingly prominent in today’s society, which, I hope makes the reader just as squeamish. No, I am not talking about LGBT or how they may use the term, but people who have taken it to justify great perverse examples which I would prefer not to get into here. Yes, they do make me that squeamish.

This argument is actually an amalgamation of other arguments. For one, in cases of incest, rape is often considered as its cause by those who are proponents of this argument. The other is from birth defect, and as we have addressed the first, the second one is where it gets tricky. I will save some of it for addressing birth defects as a singular issue, but there is no doubt that incest can produce birth defects. Yes, no doubt. I once heard a law professor speaking about how it was some sort of rumor or falsehood that incest can produce such deformities. I don’t know how studying law makes someone an expert on such things (by the way I am not an expert either), but it flies in the face of genetics and history.

Indeed, when one looks over the monarchy governments over the course of history, it becomes apparent that some were deformed by the close intermarrying of bloodlines, many monarchies believing that the bloodlines needed to be as pure as possibles, which led to deformities both in body and mind. This seems to be the focal point of the incest argument, that of physical or mental deformities. I will seek to show that these don’t justify abortion on their own, but neither does the cause. It may seem grotesque to some, but the product of intermarrying or otherwise, still remains a life, and the extinguishing is unjustifiable. Yes, that life still has value. Yes, it is still a life. Thus, it is not justifiable to terminate it because of source, victimhood, or condition. We get into some of these deeper in the next section.

On The Case of Birth Defect

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Recently, a mentally handicapped man sat before the Senate and testified passionately that his life was worth living. It is sad that a handicapped man had to testify to that, to remind people, to show people, to inform them that his life, despite his handicap, had value. That he was not worthless. That he enjoyed his life and contributed to the life of others. This is echoed by actor John C. McGinley known most famously for his roles in the movie Office Space and his role on the TV show Scrubs. Though his mission is different, namely, the removal of a certain offensive term from the public lexicon. He hasn’t expressed an opinion on abortion, but his love for his mentally handicapped son is shared by many families in his circumstance. His mission is a good one, and one I have changed my view on over the years. Simply, I used to have a “words don’t hurt” mentality when it came to such things, and I justified it through scholastic adherence, but I have since then shifted my thoughts on it. I may write on it someday.

This is the danger we reach when we see birth defects and determine that that life has a lesser value or absolutely no value. Many families who have children who are handicapped, while they admit the challenge, also declare their love for their special needs sons or daughters. Challenge and difficulty don’t negate value, sometimes it actually does the opposite. I find slippery slope arguments sometimes to be fallacious but we do need to ask if this is permissible and allowed, then where does it end? This represents a problem I have reached with trying to iron out the pro-choice view, in that it is incredibly blurry. This permissibility of the hazy can lead to things beyond the pro-choice argumentation. We literally have people advocating now for the death of sentient, independent, and individual, living beings. Again, this completely does away with the arguments we are examining.

Not to get too far off track, when we say or allow that a deformity means that something doesn’t have a right to live, that is very dangerous territory, and in my mind, quite wrong. Since “sentience” has no place anymore in determining whether some live or die, at what age outside the womb is the permissible? Although we are getting quite good, that is science is, at detecting birth defects inside the womb, what about if one only becomes apparent at birth? Is it justifiable then?

I just find it hard to look at someone handicapped either mentally or physically and think their life isn’t worth living. Yet, in the case of abortion, when it is justified because of this line of reasoning, that is exactly what we are doing, we are predetermining that their life has a lesser value than those without handicap, and then it needs to be asked, where the line is drawn? In addition, how is it affecting those who are handicapped now when we argue on this basis that it is better that they should not have been born?

On The Life of The Mother

As I have revealed, there were a few surprises when examining the individual issues raised against the pro-life view. This is one of them. I, for some reason that I can’t honestly articulate, thought this would be an easy one to address on a philosophical level, but it turned out to be a bit more difficult than I thought. Particularly, because one needs to show that a contradiction doesn’t exist in their view when included within a whole argument. Further, it raised some philosophical issues which I didn’t expect. That being said, let’s move into it.

In the strictest sense of the term, here is one condition where I am “pro-choice.” I want to make this clear because I have heard some pro-life arguments which declare that it is not permissible to abort in such a circumstance. I am pro-choice on this issue because of the reasons I will share, but also because I can’t say that a mother in unjustified or wrong in giving up her life for her unborn child as some mothers have done. I recently read about a mother who denied herself chemotherapy because it would terminate the pregnancy, but in doing so was giving herself a death sentence. Such loving sacrifice I couldn’t ever say was wrong, it is the ultimate and I can’t help but find it honorable and find it worthy of the highest accolades.

Yet, should the life of the mother, if threatened, be bound to die because of the life of their unborn child? This is where it gets tricky, and I believe we will present another element to this question later when we discuss potentiality and actuality, but here we will just appeal to ideals. I must admit to the reader that by ideals I mean an idealism. I am somewhat of an idealist in that I do think morality is objective. I also share in the views of some of the more famous idealists like Martin Luther King Jr. who I cite because of his idealism concerning the inherent rights of man, which are applicable in this discussion and it is here where I would like to begin on answering the question concerning the life of the mother.

When I began to examine this question I felt like I was in sort of a stalling tailspin for a while in that I didn’t know what direction I would go, except into confusion. Yet, eventually I found my footing and some even ground concerning the intrinsic rights of man, or as some may say, all living things. What are these intrinsic rights of man that idealists frequently cite? Further, what rights are exhibited in behavior like self-preservation? As you may recall, we touched on this already when discussing sentience. The most basic right that life has, which it strives to grasp hold, is the right to live. The right to life. This is indeed the most basic right to any living creature. The conflict, of course, comes in when the right of one thing to live conflicts with the right of another.

This is exactly what we find happening in the case of where the mother’s life is threatened by the life inside. We find that the mother’s right to life is in conflict with the unborn’s right to life. What do we do in such situations? How do we determine which one has the greater right to life? We should face the facts and realize that we all probably encounter this conflict more than we would like to admit. In the foods we eat is one example of how we experience in our normal everyday lives this right to life. It is when pondering the general rules which govern such right to life interaction where things become difficult. There are general principles, but no real rule, which allows for the pro-choice position in this circumstance. In fact, if we consider the one anecdote I provided, then it seems to add more credibility to this principle.

This principle may seem silly in how simplistic it is, but often right to life decisions are governed by principles relating to chronological order. Simply, if a thing has a long-established right to life, then when in conflict with another right to life, the former takes precedence over it. This is not always the case, however, and other elements come into play. For instance, the greatness of a thing might overpower the right to life of another, which in other circumstances may have a presiding right to life. A younger lion may overtake an older gazelle because of might rather than any right to life, not that the animal kingdom would have any concept of that. Despite this, I believe there are certain principles at work in the world, in general, which are metaphysical and which, when analyzed, can provide insight into human behavior and ethical questions.

Even Darwin denoted these metaphysical principles, in his Origin of The Species, and his exploration of the survival of the fittest. Yes, in his view, it was fitness, aka. greatness and might that precipitated his survival of the fittest principle. Also, but not always, what is more fit to protect its life is often more developed, in which age can be a factor. So what governs conflicts between rights of life is fitness and chronological factors. In these aspects, the mother is justified in preserving her life, but only in as far as she is living, not the condition of her life. The anecdotal evidence which I brought forth, shows that if a woman believed her life wouldn’t extend much past the child, then she is justified in viewing the child’s right to life above her own.

In the end, making difficult decisions in these circumstances is justifiable because the mother’s right to life preexists the one of the unborn and, as heart-wrenching as it is, should be given the choice to prolong her life in such a tragic situation. To some degree, I think this might surpass the abortion argument though. I mean, really, how many of these situations take place at a Planned Parenthood rather than at a hospital? I can’t say it never happened, but I am willing to bet that these incidents don’t occur at Planned Parenthood.

On The “It’s My Body…” Argument

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This argument isn’t a particularly good one. I would hope that this answer to the pro-life movement is less literal and more figurative, in a sense saying just, “it’s my choice.” Though this argument too is not a very valid reason for terminating a life, it at least attempts to make the morality of such a position relative, while the former “it’s my body, my choice” argument is tainted by absurdity. This is easily rebuked by utilizing principles of identity. From the pro-life perspective and the view that the child represents a life, it is the life of the child that is terminated and not the life of the mother. This alone indicates that there are separate lives, or if you prefer, bodies which should be regarded.

One way to approach this is to address the issue while appealing to philosophical theories concerning the nature of form and of identity, or how we can differentiate between individual forms. One way we do this is by noting the differences between one form and another. It is the case, of course, that pregnancy does affect the nature of the whole, i.e. the mother, but this doesn’t necessitate that both the child and the mother are made up of the same substance regarding body and form.

Let us say, for example, that one wishes to demolish a wall inside their house to expand a room. Well, the demolishing of that wall, although changing the overall layout of the house, doesn’t cease to make it a home. It is an individual structure, which, given that there is sound construction, doesn’t negate the house itself. So, yes, while pregnancy does affect the body of the woman who is pregnant, this doesn’t mean that the child is a part of that body alone.

In fact, how often is it the case that women can produce children without any sexual contact? If pregnancy is a manifestation of the body of the mother and is not merely a cause of effect to the mother’s body, then we might be justified in asking whether or not virgin births and pregnancies should be more commonplace?

The bodies are certainly linked, and the critic might approach this and ask why if the bodies are not one and the same then why the death of one can bring about the death of another? Doesn’t this, given my train of thought, imply that the bodies are one and the same because of the sharing of effects? To take the home and wall example again (as poor as it might be), to knock out a wall from inside the home can indeed be often done, but one must take into account the construction. If one knocks out the wrong wall, which is internally necessary for the house’s sound construction, then the home might become unstable and collapse. Still, just because an effect is similarly shared, doesn’t mean that the wall and the home are one.

Obviously, too, there are structural differences between a wall and a house which provide distinguishing characteristics to imply that one isn’t the other. This is too the case when it comes to child and mother. The child has its own internal organs, its own DNA, its own chromosomes, and various other differences which distinguish it as an individual from the mother. To suggest otherwise is quite a twist on sound logic, biology, and science as a whole. Yes, the body of the child exists within a body, but it is not equitable to that body in which it exists. Both have separate identities. In short, it is not the body of the mother which one is addressing, but that individual body which is being terminated. If mother and child shared the same exact substance, then both would be terminated by the abortion.

On a Business That is None of Yours

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This one has been refuted by the pro-choice movement itself and organizations like Planned Parenthood which while saying its none of anyone’s business other than the mother’s and their doctor’s (abortionist), at the same time they demand taxpayer-funded support, which pulls just about every taxpayer into the debate. While many might support or not care where their tax dollars go, it does justify the opponent of abortion to join in the conversation. To say it is none of anyone’s business doesn’t negate the fact that we are demanded to pay for it, and until each person has to cover their own expenses, or people can opt out of having their tax dollars to go to such a cause, this argument is a strongly invalid one.

Let us suppose this is the case though, that our tax dollars are not used and you can opt out completely of anything that supports or goes to the cause, would it still be none of anyone’s business, particularly the business of men? That men can’t make judgments on the practice is said as a method to silence opposition, but its not particularly a good argument, since boys too are terminated in the womb, and men are paying for it, and have an active part in the creation of a child. If it is none of the business of men to make judgments on abortion, then the child is none of our business at all. To follow this to its logical end would mean the end of all child support being paid by men and all responsibility would fall on the woman. Of course, we would not dare say such a thing or suggest this course of action, because men share in the responsibility for children and it very much is our business.

We also have to ask whether or not we can approach any moral question if we are not directly involved? This is akin to cultural relativism or ethical relativism except in hyperdrive. These questions usually concern cultures and civilizations far removed from us and then ask if the actions they take or the ideas they have can be judged by another culture? For instance, do people in the United States have a right to judge practices like female genital mutilation as is done in areas within the Middle East? If we don’t then are we justified in granting asylum because of such practices? If we are cultural relativists then we would either need to practice stringent isolationism or embrace lawlessness and anarchy on both an international and domestic scale.

Yet, the “none of your business” argument suggests a cultural relativism within one’s own culture. This is why it’s a hyper-cultural-relativism and denies the existence of objective morals whatsoever, which is wholly unrealistic. When we follow these principles to their logical and eventual end, we find that we certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world where this is the case. We want men to not be “deadbeat dads” (there would be no such thing in an ethically relative world), we want them paying child support and taking care of their offspring, we want a world where we can question morality objectively that we may apply laws, which would not exist if we didn’t believe in such objectivity. No, as a non-aborted citizen, we do have a right and responsibility to make moral questions and examine these questions as they confront us. Therefore, it is on these grounds that this is a paper thing argument which falls apart under the lightest of scrutiny. It really doesn’t have any more logical weight than just telling someone to shut up.

On The Right To Judge

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This argument is strongly related to the last but has at least one more distinction. It assumes that one can have their own moral beliefs, but even in the presence of these views, one cannot pass judgment on a person who does otherwise. It is somewhat self-defeating though.

For instance, a person who declares that a person is wrong in daring to judge another for a particular practice is doing the same thing they’ve declared shouldn’t be done. Pretty much in the same breath. Simply, to say one is wrong to pass judgment is judgment and indicates the absurdity of this statement even on a very subjective level.

On “A Bunch of Cells”

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One of the questions that concerns both science and philosophy is the question of identity, and there are numerous ideas concerning the complexities of life and matter and how it is manifest within a singular identity. In the strictest of terms, for instance, life within the womb is a bunch of cells, but then again, so are all living things. Not only this, but we can even go beyond this and say that all living things are made up of energy. An analysis of the matter of which life forms are comprised, to the quantum level, is indeed scientifically useful, and philosophically useful, but it doesn’t negate life. Life is a complex unity of energy, cells, genes, chromosomes, DNA, chemicals, elements, all working in unison to allow life to thrive. To say a person is a just a composition of cells and the genetic code isn’t necessarily untrue, but it is an examination of the particulars of which make up life, not of the definition of it.

In fact, I would suppose that to say we are just an amalgamation of cells is a bit of an analytical statement, and is presupposed in the definition of life. This is not to say that all form is living because it is made up of cells, for such a statement would be quite ridiculous. It is to say that cellular structure and composition is a necessary part of life, so it doesn’t really add anything to the argument at all, since “bundles of cells” can be both living and nonliving. It amounts to that the child is not a life, which is already the argument anyway, and it ignores the other particulars, DNA, chromosomes, genes, organ development, and others which present further evidence of life.

As a side note, we do know that certain forms of life represent colonial organisms, or ones that are considered a singular being, like the so-called flying spaghetti monster (Bathyphysa conifers), a siphonophore, which is an organism made up of a cluster of individual organisms called zooids. A more famous example is the Portuguese man o’war. One would be forgiven for considering this creature to be a jellyfish, but a jellyfish represents a single multicellular organism, while a siphonophore, is an organism made up of a colony of individual organisms. All this just is mentioned to show that a “cell-cluster” is both to be expected in a life form, and isn’t enough to negate the presence of life. A general principle of life within biology and science is that life is multicellular, this usually only applies to the more complex forms of life, but there are even singular cells which represent life, called unicellular organisms (single-celled organisms). They are considered by science to be the oldest form of life and contains things like algae and plankton. It is quite obvious that we cannot compare human life to algae or a zooid, but one cannot say that based on a cellular cluster it doesn’t represent life, nor, even, a single-celled organism.

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Bathyphysa conifers

In relation to this the 6th edition of Patten’s Foundations of Embryology says:

“Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” –Bruce M. Carlson, Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 1996.

On Assuming The Negative

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When we look at abortion from a broad perspective, one is often challenged with the question, “When does life begin?” This is a reasonable question and in argumentation, it is used to either defend one’s position or argue against the other side’s position. In other words, it is both used on the offensive and the defensive side of the argument. Yet, we all use it to solidify our own position on the issue because it is so integral an element and by asking it we agree that this is more than a relative issue, but an objective one. Now, again, there are few places where there is room for compromise on abortion, but one that we find often is found here. When it comes down to it, many simply say they do not know where life begins, and as pro-life as I may be, at least this is an honest answer. None of us are truly omniscient, nor can we remember the exact moment upon which life or consciousness was given unto us.

This is the question we reach with this line of thought: Is it reasonable then, that since we do not know where life begins in the womb exactly, that we should, therefore, not consider it to be life, and treat it as non-life? To me, this is quite an unreasonable approach. As a whole, when we say we do not know when life begins, is to open ourselves up to the possibility that it may be a life, as opposed to those who flatly deny it. Since we all know the value of life, and the possibility of life is there, then why would we assume the negative rather than the positive? It seems to me that if you value life, then you would at least want to side on the side of caution that you may be, indeed, terminating a life, rather than since you cannot know, decide that it is worth discarding or terminating. Indeed, it could be said, if we were to even accept that it does not represent life, that life is so valuable that even a developing life deserves to be protected.

On The Positive and Absolute Value of Choice

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At this point, one may argue that it is choice that is the deciding factor, but this too falls apart under scrutiny. Just because someone has a choice to do something, doesn’t make the choice correct, moral, or rational. Driving down a two-lane highway, I have the choice to veer off into the oncoming lane and hit another car, to both end my life and take many others with me. I give this example, not as a direct comparison of abortion, but rather to show that it is not choice that presents us with absolute freedom and a positive value upon making any choice, but rather the context of that choice and the situation within which it is regarded and applicable. The truth value, moral value, and rational value doesn’t exist in the presence of choice itself, but in the choice taken. Yet, in the pro-choice movement, there is present the presupposition that the presence of choice indicates a positive absolute value in the expression of it. Yet, our common life experience empirically shows that this is not the case and saying a choice is correct simply because of the presence of choice is a poor one. Though I do believe there are those on the pro-choice side that understand this and use other means to make a case for abortion, at the same time, it is presented as a general companion to the movement, rather than a necessary component of it.

On Pure Being Through Causality

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Throughout this essay, we have touched on some of the scientific backing behind life and its origins, but there too is the philosophical side to address when it comes to life being manifest in the womb. This part represents more the metaphysical principles behind the science and more general philosophical categories, but it may be of some use to those who aren’t so quick to dismiss philosophical elements and argumentation.

It is not in dispute that those who have life generally have the ability to create life. This too, is a principle of causality, that an effect of a cause will, in some part, have semblance with that cause. An effect will resemble the cause, and this applies to things like life. Two living things coming together to create an effect, that living nature is presented onto that effect. This is all that is meant when it is said that life begets life. No matter what your cosmological viewpoint, this cannot be denied, and although some might question whether it is a necessary principle, the fact that it is such a looming one is beyond dispute.

Well, what does this have to do with proving life is in the womb? Well, it cannot be deductively and without room for doubt be deemed true (deductive logic being hypothesized to be only represented in pure mathematics and pure propositional logic), but it can be used in the inductive toolkit for defending the pro-life position, that the child within the womb represents a life because the child’s causes are life, and that life is communicated unto the unborn.

This does present us with a snowball effect of philosophical issues. For instance, that not every time man embarks on creating an effect, if you will, does it end in expressing life. If I build a chair, I am not creating life, but only form. If I make a clock, I am only creating form and function. I may produce something that makes movement, or in the case of robotics, even mimics life, but it is not life. Further, sometimes the desire and actions that bring life, for various reasons aren’t enough to actually bring it into being, nor is the life always carried to term. Yet, in the latter case does that mean it never existed at all?

Briefly, so why don’t a chair or clock resemble life by these philosophical theories? Notice, they aren’t the product of natural processes, like child-creation, for instance, rather they are produced by the mind and by action and in this way they really do have a semblance. They have an aesthetical resemblance and one that fits our desires for function and use. They resemble our plans, our ambitions, and what we find aesthetically pleasing. In this way, they do take on a resemblance, but we are quite unable to impart life unto these things, unlike in the case of a child, upon which we impart life.

On Potentiality, Actuality, and The “Unanswerable” Argument

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A few months ago, I was presented with a pro-choice argument that was touted to be unanswerable by anyone who has a pro-life position. I am not the only one in this regard that when approached by someone who says they had something “unanswerable,” it immediately piques our interest and we immediately embark on seeing it is really the case. Sometimes they aren’t very interesting or challenging, and sometimes very, and sometimes you learn new things, and sometimes you don’t. While in particular, this one was very creative and clever, it wasn’t particularly difficult, but, in my case, it actually helped me iron out a pro-life position.

Many of you have probably seen it so I would like to paraphrase a bit here, but leave all the rational parts intact. Suppose you were a pro-life person and were caught in a burning building. In one room there was a two-year-old girl and in another, there is a room full of a thousand zygotes and both are of equal distance away. You only have time to run and grab one before the building collapses taking everything inside with it. Which one do you go get? The zygotes or the child?

Clever, right? I will admit it. It is. Yet, this doesn’t mean it’s correct. First, it represents a kind of logical fallacy called argument from consequences. In it, a hypothetical scenario is introduced where both consequences are undesirable (i.e., if one leaves the child then the zygotes are burned up, if one leaves the zygotes then the child is burned up). Then those offering the scenario ask the person to make a judgment call based upon it. Further, the scenario is perfectly structured for one to make a singular choice, in that both are of equal distance apart, you can only grab one, so on and so forth.

We put this in another context with the same logical operators and we see it’s not particularly rationally effective. Suppose you were a pro-animal person (who isn’t?) and were caught in a burning building. In one room there is a kitten and in another room there is a puppy and both are exactly the same distance away from you. You only have time to run and grab one before the building collapses taking everything inside with it. Which one do you go get? The kitten or the puppy.

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Obviously, this differs in that the kitten and puppy both represent life, while the pro-choice person is trying to argue life. However, this shows another element though, that the original scenario is also fallacious in that it is an appeal to emotion. It also becomes apparent in what it seeks to do. For instance, if one says, “I would grab the kitten,” then the person offering the challenge could declare “Aha! Then you hate puppies!” Just because one pushes for a judgment between consequences both undesirable doesn’t really show the exact reason why either is undesirable.

Unlike the kitten and puppy though, which may have a bigger judgment call element, this one does seem more obvious. Obviously, we would all grab the child. Due to this, the critic says, “Aha! Then you agree that zygotes don’t represent life.” This is the thing that helped me iron out my position, and let me explain.

I noticed that it is zygotes alone. It’s not women impregnated who have this stage, all thousand of them or whatever you would like to say. There is indeed a dependency of life on the mother at the zygote stage and that cannot be denied, nor has any pro-life person, as far as I know, tried to deny it. This goes back to the beginning of the essay, if dependency negates life. It does not. If you take a dependent thing and demand it be independent, it’s going to die. The greater the dependency the more fragile it is in independence. So how does it apply here?

It applies because it presented into my mind a distinction between potentiality and actuality. In the scenario, when we are confronted with the young child, that represents both actuality and greater independence. A zygote shows a potentiality in that without being within the womb of a mother, it cannot continue to develop.

J. Clark says:

“Each human begins life as a combination of two cells, a female ovum, and a much smaller sperm. This tiny unit, no bigger than a period on this page, contains all the information needed to enable it to grow into a complex…structure of the human body. The mother has only to provide nutrition and protection.” –J. Clark, The Nervous System: Circuits of Communication in The Human Body, p. 99, 1985.

If left to its own devices, if not protected, then it is a death sentence. Therefore, it is dependent on the mother, and since the mother isn’t there, it is a thing that represents a potentiality relatively more than the actuality found within the child.

Yet, as I have stated, both consequences are regrettable and tragic. Due to this, then, we can see that even if, to go back to the section Assuming The Negative, potentiality deserves to be protected. For instance, if you are to ask the pro-life person if it was him in a burning building with zygotes if he or she would grab them, you may find more people opting to do so (I refrain from saying this absolutely because of the judgment call, for one’s own life is still to be taken into account within such a situation and I can’t speak for everyone). It shows that there at the very least there is a value in protecting the potentiality for life as well as it’s actuality, thereby, to assume the negative isn’t rational.

So yes, while clever, and I actually have to give some respect to the question, it doesn’t do what it seeks to do, and it helped me iron out my own position, not just concerning the challenge itself, but my pro-life stance in general.

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On The Charge of Sexism

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The charge that abortion is symptomatic of sexism doesn’t stand up either. The reasons for this are, first off, that there are pro-life women too and it actually is quite demeaning to say that women who are pro-life are only so because they have given in to the power of men. This, while not sexist (because you can’t be sexist towards your own gender right?), it is demeaning to say that because someone doesn’t agree with your viewpoint, they are weak, can’t think for themselves, ignorant, or stupid. In that regard, with that kind of treatment, it’s hard for me to see how such a charge champions for women. It can’t. The process of tearing down will never lift up.

Yet, let’s for a moment even assume that is true. Let us just give that to the pro-choice position. Does it still hold that there is proof of sexism? No, because the pro-choice side, if you will notice, doesn’t push to only save male children, but wishes to do so despite gender, from both female and male pro-lifers. It is not a sexist position, but a rational and moral one which no gender can claim hold of.

On The Pro-Life View Being a Religious Position

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Yes, I had to touch on religion eventually, but I will keep this argument in context. This is an attempt to label pro-life people as religious in order to give it sort of a mythical quality to the non-religious pro-choice group. See the problem there? This one is refuted because there are religious people who are pro-choice. There are groups that don’t believe in religion and are pro-life. Among these are groups like SPL (“secular pro-life”), which is of the greater atheistic pro-life movement, as well as even pagan pro-life, the latter only being mentioned because a lot of those who argue that pro-lifers are religious are referring to Judeo-Christian theology. Yet, while it is the case that many religious people are pro-life, that in itself doesn’t make it an irrational position, andy more than people declaring murder should be made legal because the religious believe it shouldn’t be.

The fact that it is not religious is exhibited by the wide range of beliefs and views of individuals who hold to the pro-life position. Some, of which, I have been privileged to talk to. The other reason that people push the religious angle to discredit pro-life, is because if they can put a religious label on it, it is easier to evoke the separation of church and state and say that it is unconstitutional to impose restrictions on abortion on the grounds that it would be imposing something religious, like it is some mystical religious practice or something to believe an unborn child represents a life and should be protected as such. Questions of morality, choice, life, what constitutes life and what protections it should receive is in no way religious, as I hope this whole essay is evidence of.

On The Women Seeking Abortion Will Be Injured or Die

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This oft-repeated argument goes as follows: If abortion is made illegal, then it would force women who want abortions to do so through illegal means, which are less safe and can lead to injury or even death. While this is certainly a sad consequence of banning abortion across the board, it sidesteps the fact that these things happen with current abortions. Interestingly, it is hard to get numbers on such incidents because it is not legally required that abortion clinics provide them, whether it be death or complications. In addition, when a death occurs it is characterized as maternal death and not one necessarily resulting from abortion. Some deaths are caused by the anesthesia, medical conditions, and the surgical procedure itself. In addition, the risk of cancer is said to increase. Abortionfacts.com states:

“Approximately 10% of women undergoing elective abortion will suffer immediate complications, of which approximately one-fifth (2%) are considered life-threatening. The nine most common major complications which can occur at the time of abortion are: infection, excessive bleeding, embolism, ripping or perforation of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions, hemorrhage, cervical injury, and endotoxic shock. The most common ‘minor’ complications include: infection, bleeding, fever, second-degree burns, chronic abdominal pain, vomiting, gastrointestinal disturbances, and Rh sensitization.” –David C. Reardon, Ph.D., https://www.abortionfacts.com/reardon/major-physical-affects-related-to-abortion

Whyprolife.com says there is even danger in the abortion pill:

“22 women who took the abortion pill have died since 2000. Women who have had surgical abortions have died also. Just to name a few: Antonesha Ross died on May 8, 2009, in Chicago of untreated respiratory complications that should have prevented her from having an abortion in the first place. Ying Chen died on July 28, 2009, in California after an anesthesia reaction that went unnoticed. Karnamaya Mongar died in November of 2009 in Philadelphia after unlicensed personnel administered her sedation medications and oversedated her. Jennifer Morbelli died on February 7, 2013, in Maryland because of an amniotic fluid embolism. Tonya Reeves hemorrhaged to death in Chicago in July of 2012. On February 13, 2013, Maria Santiago died in Maryland of sedation complications. Given the reasons . . . for underreporting, these cases represent an unknown but small fraction of actual complications or deaths related to abortion.” –www.whyprolife.com/abortion-risks-side-effects-and-complications/, 2018.

Indeed, it seems that even deaths which have been caused or contributed to by abortion or labeled as “maternal” rather than referencing the abortion itself as a cause, just as the CDC monitors deaths under the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System any specifically related to abortion. Further, there are a number of studies that I invite the reader to look up about the psychological effects of abortion in the long-term. I don’t mention these things to indicate that there is no difference between the abortions of yesteryear (illegal) and currently (legal), for I am certain the former was much more dangerous, but we cannot say that abortion is 100% safe either, or without consequence.

Whatever you think about the numbers and findings, it still doesn’t mean that the argument for the health of women seeking an abortion through illicit means is a good one. Whether abortion is safe isn’t that much of a consideration if it is immoral. Let us simplify this argument for the sake of time. If the developing child, or whatever you want to call it, represents a life, then taking that life is wrong (the cases of the life of the mother being threatened by the pregnancy alone notwithstanding). It amounts to infanticide. If it does not represent life, then it is justifiable. However, if it is a life, and is therefore morally wrong, then the fact that someone gets hurt or maims themselves, or dies in the pursuit of doing wrong, isn’t a good rationale for the legalization and approval of that wrong.

On Only The Rich Will Only Have Access to Abortion

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I just heard this one and needed to include it to answer it briefly. I don’t think it will take as much time as any of the other challenges because it falls apart pretty quickly. It says that if we make abortion illegal, only the rich can afford it. I may, I hope, not have to explain why this is a bad argument for too long. Let’s put it in another context. We may all disagree on whether drugs should be made legal, but for the sake of illustration, let’s put it this way: Let us suppose that meth is the most expensive drug on the planet (you can probably already see where I am going with this). Therefore only the rich and upper classes can afford to do meth. Thus, it follows, that we should legalize meth on the grounds that it is more affordable for everyone and everyone can do meth. Again, not a direct comparison, but one that emphasizes that if something is wrong, how much someone pays for that wrong, and how much people can’t afford that wrong, is a bad foundation upon which to give your support.

On Progression, Regression, and The Political Pendulum

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Abortion has always been a mainstay in the public dialogue, but within my life, I have to say, I haven’t seen it like this before. This is why I decided to write somewhat extensively on it and present all the arguments. One large reason that it has come to the forefront of the political and social discourse is because of how far one side was willing to go, advocating unequivocally for what amounted to infanticide. One thing we notice about society and the political spectrum is that when we press for progression too far, or try to regress into the past too far as well, the political pendulum will sometimes violently swing the other direction. This swing, which is always in motion, can occur over a gradual period of time, or at other times it can be rather abrupt. Due to the fact that it was pushed so far one direction, that children out of the womb, who were independent, or actual and sentient, were subject to choice, not only negated all the arguments pro-choice people were making for years but also shocked those who were in the middle on the abortion issue. If you think about it, that isn’t too surprising. To say that you can slaughter a child born out of the womb because choice overcomes its life is shocking, and that it was testified too and freely admitted, was, in another sense, confirmation of what some of those pro-lifers who advocated for slippery-slope arguments were saying.

There is something to be aware of here for the pro-life group. As I said, this pendulum is always in motion, so it is to likely swing the other way, and may already be starting to as of this moment.

On Whether Can You Be Pro-Life if You Were Once Part of or Exercised a Pro-Choice Viewpoint?

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Yes! Indeed, many have switched between views, degrees of those views, and jumped back and forth over their lives, and this won’t change. Why this is a question included, is because sometimes people invest so much in a particular view that its either frightening to get away from or they feel hypocritical for moving from one end of the spectrum to another. We often have friends, family, or colleagues we fear we may disappoint or may disagree with us and we are afraid we might lose them. Certainly, it is a fear of mine in writing this. Yet, this isn’t always the case, nor should it be. These views, pro-life and pro-choice, don’t seem to be exclusive ones at all.

I’ll leave it with this thought and paraphrase author C. S. Lewis by doing so, that it is the case that people adhere to progressivism simply because of its appeal that it is progressive. Yet, there is nothing more regressive and stagnant then not recognizing a mistake and refusing to turn around. When one embarks on a journey toward a particular destination, it is not progressive to make a wrong turn and keep going, it leads you only further away, and the only way to really progress is to turn again and proceed back toward your intended goal. If your goal is the truth then don’t let your mistakes keep you from progressing forward.

Thank you all for reading and I hope at the very least this work might present you with the understanding that the pro-life position isn’t arbitrarily foolish, but thought out, explored, and despite the challenges (some of which are gut-wrenching), still stands in the light of its challenges.

Also, I welcome any comments, but because within my studies I have found those who insult, express uncontrolled rage, hatred, and threats to be the most irrational and convincing, all such comments will be ignored. However, I welcome any further challenges or thoughts that I may have not considered and would love to hear your thoughts on these issues.

Again, I thank you.

 


20Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square. 21On top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. 22How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?23Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.” —Proverbs 1:20-23

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There are many things that set the Holy Bible apart from other books of antiquity. One simply is how people respond to it. Out of all books of antiquity it is unique in that almost every world view attempts to come to the Holy Bible, have it validate their belief system, or, on the other hand, they attempt to use it against itself to disprove it’s authenticity. These arguments run the gamut from being absurd and silly, to requiring extensive study by believers to provide an adequate answer against the charges. This charge, in particular, has surprised me for a couple reasons. First, due to its absurdity, and because I have heard it more than once. One would be most inclined to think the more absurd a charge is the rarer it becomes. Yet, there are those examples where there are shallow and boundless absurdities which we hear time and time again. This is one such charge.
 photo 383_zpsac971fa1.gifThe charge regarding Proverbs is that it denotes and thus “proves” a kind of polytheism. Polytheism is simply the belief in many gods, appropriately from the Greek’s, who had their own mythology concerning many gods and demi gods, “Polys” meaning “many.” At any rate, it has been argued that wisdom, which is personified more than once in Proverbs, is indeed reference to another god rather than an attribute of God. I find this to be quite an odd argument because of the fact that personification of concepts within forms of writing is such a prevalent instrument. From pop lit to the archaic, personification has been used in everything from these abstract concepts, like wisdom, to nature and animal forms. This being the case, to jump to such a literal conclusion is quite silly. Yet, here it is.

To somewhat prove the case that this isn’t a separate god speaking, but rather the one and true God, we only need to look at the gender of this personification. Wisdom is regarded as a female, while God is almost always depicted as male, when we take into account the personal pronouns which reference God Himself. This is nothing against the female gender mind you, quite the contrary, but what it does symbolize is God’s role when we come to him for salvation. He provides for us and we, the church, are His bride. The irony of this view, made even more ironic because it is argued from the point of view of feminists, is that if one is to hold that the female gender is derogatory in symbolism, and that we, that is all human kind, are referred to in a the female gender, it requires a derogatory view of the self if one is remain in complete coherence with that view.

What we have here is not a literal personification, but rather an abstract personification of one of the attributes of God. Verse 23 says:

“Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”

To, “pour out,” is a not uncommon phrase in Scripture which is attributed to God, for God holds the cup of wisdom and pours it out to anyone who repents. Thus, the wisdom spoke of here is not a deity, but a part of God, not apart. There are a couple other curiosities to this verse which speak of and to wisdom. One of these I believe to be so profound that I have not grasped the real gravity of it. Thus, if there are any out there with insight, I would appreciate further clarification in the comments section immediately below this post.

It is interesting, but wisdom is said of speaking in four locations. This is the profoundness of which I speak. These are, out in the open, in the public square, on the top of the wall, and at the city gate. Instead of the Scripture saying, “Wisdom cries out…,” it gives us these four specific locales. Why? Though I do not claim to understand the full significance, and I have an inkling there is more, I think there are a few things we can safely and scripturally determine to be the case here. “Out in the open,” may refer to the fact that even outside men, independent of them, this Godly wisdom exists. “In the public square,” can signify that among men God’s wisdom calls to us.

“At the city gate,” I believe may need some clarification. Unlike contemporary cities, cities of antiquity were often surrounded by a wall and often had one or several gates that led into or out of the city. These gates were closed at times at certain hours and most definitely when the city was under siege. When someone was said to be at the gates, it is equivalent to saying, “Someone is at the door.” Meaning that one was or is on the other side. Thus, when wisdom calls out from the city gate, she is not crying out from inside, but from outside! This is symbolic of the human heart who has erected walls or strongholds against the wisdom of God, and God Himself. Despite this wisdom still cries out. “She” cannot be silenced.
 photo atthegates_zps04295a45.jpg“On top of the wall,” is a metaphor for this wisdom being loftier than man’s wisdom. Though it can be among men, it is greater than man and his own knowledge, reason or logic. As I had said before, the polytheistic argument is used other places in Proverbs. This includes Proverbs chapter 9. Here, in Verse 3, the lofty metaphor is repeated once more.

“She (wisdom) has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city.” —Proverbs 3:9

Saint Thomas Aquinas quotes it another way:

“Wisdom sent her maids to invite to the tower.” —Proverbs 3:9

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Aquinas himself uses the verse to attempt to prove that the Sacred Doctrine is more noble than other sciences, but does liken the metaphor to its transcending nature:

“Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others whether speculative or practical.” —Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is interesting to note that chapter 9 holds a lot of similarities to chapter 1. However, what we can gather from all this is that there is this transcending nature to wisdom and not only that but, there is also the apparent meaning that wisdom is everywhere, though not all men choose to recognize or hear it. This is utmost importance do to it being repeated. As we continue in chapter 1 this becomes more apparent.

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mocking and fools hate knowledge.” —Proverbs 1:22

It is quite fascinating that we are able to define what we are simply on what we love or hate. That’s worth repeating. We define what we are simply on what we love or hate. If we love to mock we become mockers. If we hate knowledge we become fools, and if we love our simple carnal ways, we become exactly that. This extends to even truth in general, of which God is a part. Those who love truth will see it, while those who hate the truth will avoid it altogether. Yet, truth and wisdom call out to us from their lofty positions to change our ways. To hate mockery, the carnal, and to love knowledge. All this so we might become respectful, spiritual and wise.


1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- 5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance- 6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” –Proverbs 1:1-7

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After having a rather difficult night last night, I sought out the Bible for comfort and opened it to Proverbs. Not only was I comforted, but rather convicted as well. We often turn to the scriptures in times of difficulty or trouble, but how much less do we do sometimes during periods of comfort? This was my own personal conviction, I am so willing to open the bible in such times of hardship, either spiritual, emotional, or physical, but I am much less apt to do so in times of peace. I am glad for this conviction because conviction is a form of instruction which leads unto a beneficial end. Though, I must admit, it isn’t always comfortable in and of itself.

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I realized something else as well. I have read Proverbs completely through (and indeed all of the sacred doctrine), but I have never embarked on a deep study of Proverbs, which shocks me somewhat. I am a fan of studying philosophy and philosophies. I find man infinitely interesting including the formulation of belief structures and sciences. This is generally speaking and does not reflect on what my viewpoints are concerning a particular philosophy, but studying them I do enjoy. Even in the study of opposing viewpoints, I feel I have honestly gained some wisdom and this is both to my benefit and my shame, for the Lord has shown me that I can continue to study, do what I enjoy, but focus more on the Holy Writ rather than on the words of ancient dead men. How much more important are the words of He who is still alive and those who live in Him?

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So this is what I embark upon now, to study the words of one of the wisest men who has ever lived. King Solomon. If I love philosophy so much, why is it that I have put this off or it has never occurred to me. Partially its because, although I have always enjoyed the book, and speaking to its credit, it is one of the perfect books for randomly opening and reading. I could say the same about Psalms as well. This was my main method of study in Proverbs, the closing of eyes and pointing of the finger to illuminate verses contained within. This does serve some benefit, but I feel I have missed some of the fullness of the knowledge contained within.

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During Solomon’s time, as it has been said, Israel was as close as it ever has got to being a world, “superpower.” King Solomon reigned during this time and his wealth of spirit, wisdom and material is unequaled. Therefore, he and his writings are great candidates for deep philosophical reflection. They are comforting, sweet, funny at times, insightful, contain deep mysteries, and can be even scary. Yet, all emanates from this man who deeply loved the Lord, as did his father David, and it is seen throughout. His love of the Lord is not only the love directed at the Lord Himself, but extends indeed to the Lord’s ways, means, and the knowledge or wisdom of the Lord.

It is a treasure trove of wisdom and experience. In fact, one could be reminded of the writings of Marcus Aurelius and his “Meditations,” when reading Proverbs, if one were so tempted to make a comparison. Yet, in reality, there is no comparison, for the wisdom of the world and the knowledge of God are two different things altogether. While one may be practical in the ways of the world, the other concerns divine things and thus is all the much greater. Yet, even these divine revelations have practical applications, for the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Proverbs starts out giving a “mission statement” about the book as a whole. In this Solomon gives us his desire and intention for the book:

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 2for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair.” —Proverbs 1:1-3

Man is a master at self-deception. Despite evidence to the contrary, we often think we have everything under control. That we have provided a safe house against enemies, catastrophe, heartbreak, hardship and temptation. How arrogant and silly we can be! More often then not, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in great tribulation and challenge. Some of this, at times, is due to our own ignorance and self-pacification. In times of comfort, we let our guard down and are assaulted sometimes as a consequent of those ignorant choices we have made. This is why prudence is so important. To be prudent is to be careful and wary of the future in our choices. Sure, we can never completely stop these hardships, but we can protect ourselves from being our own worst enemy in being prudent. This prudence only comes through instruction, especially that which comes the divine source.

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Solomon never shies away from his mission. Simply, it is Solomon’s conviction to teach. Not only on these principles of wisdom, but also on how to understand the words. Further, he desires to provide instruction on prudent behaviors, of which are included moral choices, justice and fairness.

4For giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- 5let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.” –Proverbs 1:4-5

There is an interesting juxtaposition which can be made here. This shows the true extent of the wisdom shared in Proverbs. In verse 4, Solomon mentions the simple and the young. Those who lack knowledge and wisdom. Not only is this book for them, but also, in verse 5, Solomon mentions the wise, the learned and the discerning. This is an ingenious way to basically say that these words will never be irrelevant or untrue, nor is there any end to the wisdom contained within. If the wisdom can apply to both the simple and learned then there is no end to the extent of the wisdom and thus can only be divine in nature. King Solomon is not sharing the wisdom of man, practicality, but the wisdom of the Lord.

6For understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” —Proverbs 1:6-7

First off let me say that the fear of the Lord and what it is exactly is a rather large topic and one I hope to visit further, for as soon as I think I understand it, some other element becomes apparent. Yet, it is interesting to note that elsewhere Solomon mentions the fear of the Lord as being a kind of humility. Being the case, we can see humility as well is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge. Yet, fools are haughty and despise wisdom and instruction, for such things strike against their pride. Again, to my shame I can see this lesson evident in my own life. I have forsaken knowledge and wisdom before for the mere purpose of preserving my pride. How interesting that pride can be more false than it already is.


Galatians 3:23-25, “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

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Paul declares that the law, which revealed our inability to be in complete compliance with the law and/or God’s nature, was added so that mankind may see their need for Christ. The law was the birth pains, through which the wonderful promise made known to Abraham became manifest and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, through whom we, in faith, become righteous before God. There is a paradoxical nature within the law concerning both it’s goodness, it being from God and representing holiness, and while at the same time being a burden unto man, for the law condemns and in the law itself, there is no hope, for all have violated the law.

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Furthermore, the strict obedience to the law, can in fact break the law. Again, this is rather paradoxical, but we can reconcile these seemingly contradicting aspects, not by the law, or through man, but rather in Christ. Some, like the Pharisees, held the law to such a strict standard, that they idolized the law above faith in God, thus breaking the law, of which they claimed obedience. It is possible to worship the law itself and forgetting about the conditions of faith that are proclaimed all throughout the scripture. This is not to say that obedience to the law is bad, for this same law is now upon our hearts, but rather by faith, the law becomes represented through our relationship with Jesus. We do not develop obedience in the law and then acquire faith, it has been designed and purposed by God that it be the other way around. This is implicit in the law, but man lost focus as he put his faith in the commands rather than the author.

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Realize we still run the same danger today. When we approach the word of God, we need to approach it in and through our relationship with the Spirit, otherwise the Living Word, loses that necessary condition of faith. This is a lesson I need to consistently keep in the forefront of my mind when approaching the Word of God. I study the word, but I have come to understand that the Bible itself can’t save you anymore than the law provided salvation. There are numerous atheists and deists who know the Bible better than some Christians do. Thus, we find that what is contained in the word is a path to Christ, but if we look at the words alone, we are missing the point.

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I myself love studying the word, but I also love extrapolating the philosophical points behind the Scriptures. As I have stated before, the enemy and the self, can take even the best intentions and askew them. Thereby, there was a time when I saw that my study of the Scripture wasn’t as God has intended. We are to not seek the philosophical points behind the Scriptures, but rather seek God and we should direct our hearts to developing a deeper relationship with Hm. We shall not forget this, for to do so, we are the same as those who study the law, and forego God. We should let the Spirit speak to us through the word, for our study is not study alone, but rather communion with our Lord, and we need to pray and be open unto this while we approach the Word of God.

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Likewise, man forgot this aspect when they approached the law. They strove to be in compliance with the law, and forgot about the faith represented in the law. All the great men and women within the Old Testament understood this point, that the law reflected our noncompliance, and thus they were brought to faith and reliance on God and His promises, rather than just to the law itself, which again trespasses against the law, for it can idolize the law in a sinful manner.

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So in Christ, we have a new revelation of faith that we can rest our reliance on. This was purposed from the beginning that the reconciliation between the law and faith, along with justification, would rest on Jesus Christ. Since man mistook the law and did not come to God in faith, He has now revealed a more present object upon which our foundations of faith are built, His Son. In addition, the law showed our great need of the deliverance that God had promised prior to Abraham, and this was purposed to draw men unto the promise by faith. Now, by the new covenant, the promise has been fulfilled and we eagerly await those promises from God that are still yet to come.

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Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

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In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

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Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

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We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

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So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

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Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

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Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

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It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

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The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

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“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him.” -1 Corinthians 15:20-23

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"The Transfiguration", by Lodovico Carracci. oil on canvas, c. 1594

I find that my inquisitive nature is both a blessing and a curse, as will become apparent in my commentary concerning this passage of Scripture. The mind is a astonishing thing, though it can also serve evil, but it was gifted by God that we may seek out the wonderful mysteries of Him. Yet, our faith must surpass our own understanding, for God is beyond the reason of man. Rather than use this as an excuse, the inability to reason God and His ways, is perfectly reasonable. If we were able to reason God, we would need to be Him, which is impossible. Much like you can know a person, you can’t really know them to a full degree unless you are actually one in the same, which trespasses against the law of identity. Thus, we see only as a poor reflection and though we can approach God using the mind, the fullness is unattainable.

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We can stretch our minds to have great understanding of the Lord, and such wisdom is provided by Him, but there is a line past which man cannot reason, where thought becomes defused, a chaos of reason, if you will. This is an important thing to realize, if one who is as inquisitive as I am begins to get tripped up from unanswered questions, as it used to do with me. A couple other things to realize are:

  • Just because you don’t have an answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
  • Answers can be hard to come by, but most often they come not from teachers or pastors, but from the Lord Himself.
  • If the mind of man is corrupt and evil, how can we possibly fully comprehend that which is perfect and good? Perfect goodness cannot be fully comprehended.
  • If you have pondered it, chances are someone else has as well, therefore a answer, or rather partial answer, is bound to be available somewhere.
  • If you feel your questions eating at your faith, this is really a manifestation of pride. Wait on the Lord to provide an answer, if the question is that important to you, remain in prayer.

In this verse, it tells us Christ was the Firstfruit. What is meant by this? Christ at the time of His resurrection, arose with a new glorified body. One that is free of decay and will never pass away. He was the first to receive such a body, but won’t be the last. While Christ justly received His new body, we, those who belong to Him, will receive it according to His grace. If death came through the disobedience of one man, as 1 Corinthians tells us, how much more can the perfect obedience of Christ negate the disobedient act of he who cursed all man?
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Again, His body is the first of the new bodies which we will be granted at the time of our passing from death into life. Christians will be raised again, with the blood of Christ covering us and we will be seen as righteous, through grace, and we will acquire our new bodies through the Son of Man. Our bodies will be unperishable and not be bound to the physical world and it’s laws as we now know it.

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This certainly is a glorious truth that we eagerly await. When the Lord comes in glory we will be free of the struggle, the pain, the anguish, and the disgusting nature of sin which stains us all. What a glorious day it will be! However, here my inquisitive mind interjects and asks a question, I almost can’t help but ask, and as of now I have no answer. The question is this:

If Christ is the Firstfruit, and I have faith He is, then how could He talk with both Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9)? Were they not resurrected?

One answer seems rather obvious. Elijah never died, but was whisked off to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire and horses. For this reason I believe the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:1-14 will be Enoch and Elijah, for both in the scriptures did not experience physical death, but were taken straight up into heaven in bodily form. Thus, both have yet to die, which the two witnesses will be subject to before being raised up again to life.

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The famous Hank Hanegraaff, who is well renowned for providing biblical answers, said on his blog concerning this question:

“There is no reason to think that they (Moses and Elijah) had yet received permanent resurrected bodies.”

Truly, the Bible doesn’t say that at all. Both were beloved by God and may have been called from Abraham’s Bosom to speak to the Lord. Also, the fact that the transfiguration occurred at this very time, might indicate, that in this miraculous event, Christ was transcending the world prior, of course, to His crucifixion. However, this is all speculative, and exactly what form Moses, whom the Law was given, and Elijah, whom was the restorer of the Law, took might be a mute point when juxtaposed with the “pre-incarnate” glory manifest in Christ. Whatever the answer is, perhaps it lies in the chaos of reason and I would not even be able to grasp a full answer, and thereby the inquisitive nature is overshadowed by that of faith. My faith in the Scripture, which I have no reason to disbelieve, tells me that Christ was indeed the Firstfruit, and Moses and Elijah were in form of something different than the glorified body, for Christ had not yet became glorified, so the opportunity for the two men to receive their new bodies had not yet come to pass.

We must be wary not to include those things in the Bible that it does not say. In this case it does not say that they, Moses and Elijah, were in bodily form, so there is no reason, truly, to conclude that they are. Though, again, at least one, Elijah, could have been. Another form is possible, for we know people after their earthly death go into Hades, or Abraham’s bosom. Therefore, it follows that they still exist in some form and perhaps it was this form that, at least Moses took, on the Mount of Transfiguration. Finally, the mountain itself is unknown, but three suggestions have been made concerning its identification, though admittedly this is somewhat irrelevant. The three candidates offered by scholars and tradition are, Mount Tabor, Mount Hermon, and even Mount Sinai, the latter being the most unlikely of the three due to its location.

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Thanks again to Terie for her insight, a true Princess of The Lord and The Queen of Grammar. 🙂


“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.'” -Romans 3:10

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The world tells us that there are both good and bad people who dwell within it. Such distinctions are usually relative in nature, and are dependent on a person’s actions, rather than their heart. While it is true that action is a manifestation of a person’s axiology, man lacks the wisdom to see what goes on within the intermediate between heart and action, for within this lacks an evil unseen to all but God. We know from scripture and the words of Christ our Lord, that it isn’t just action that makes people evil, but the desires of their hearts and those ideas or carnal contemplations that are manifest in the mind, heart and spirit.

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While the Law is based on solid truth and ideals, man’s law is not. Rather, it is based, again, on ethical, and even cultural relativism. Thus, what is proper or ethical according to one man’s heart may not be the case with another. This suggests the unreliability of man’s conception of right or wrong, though I would agree that God has instilled a natural faculty of judging such things.

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God’s wisdom far surpasses that of man, and though man may conclude he is a good person according to the extent of what he has done, this is not how God judges trespass. A person may conclude he is good due to the fact he has never killed anybody, but Christ says different. He states in Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 21-22:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

What is good isn’t based on action, for we can sin in the heart, both willingly and unwillingly. Therefore, despite man’s idea of goodness, the true ideal, the one of God, says that indeed none are good. Everyone has sinned, and will sin. Christ say’s in Mark Chapter 10, Verse 18:

“No one is good-except God alone.”

Jesus said is in response to a man who fell to his knees before him, and referred to him as, “good teacher,” and inquired what he must do to inherit eternal life. Christ responded with the aforementioned statement, in addition to, “Why do you call me good?”

Though Christ’s response provides some questions, these are resolvable, and we discover His reply hints to His true nature. Jesus never denied He wasn’t good, merely inquired why the man had stated this to Him. Christ was certainly good and He was good because He was The Lord. As Christ states in John 14, Verse 7:

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

This not only suggests the Trinity, but shows us that there is no good one, except for the Lord. Therefore, we are all blotted by iniquity and sin, and thereby, all mankind is in need of a great savior to be cleansed of this sin and to overcome it. This is what Christ has done for us, provided the cleansing power of His blood, that it may wash away our sin when we come to Him even as we are, sinners.

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