Is Morality Fact or Opinion?

March 28, 2015 § 23 Comments

1425514425626Below is a discussion that developed on a friend’s Facebook comment thread surrounding a New York Times opinion piece highlighting a perceived inconsistency in how many schools teach about fact and opinion, asserting that students are being “told that there are no moral facts in one breath even as the next tells them how they ought to behave.” Marc posted an article rebutting the first article, stating that moral facts “are opinions because they are value claims” rather than objective or universal truth. Linked here are both original articles.

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts by Justin P. McBrayer

Moral Truths and the Fact/Opinion Dichotomy by Thomas Whitley

Marc and I agreed that the ensuing debate was getting pretty lengthy, so I offered to move it here so that it might continue where it left off without further assault to our friend’s Facebook feed.


MIKE

This is always a fun discussion (that’s my opinion anyway, not necessarily fact:). McBrayer’s article notes the self-defeating pitfall that all arguments for relativism fall into, and Whitley’s rebuttal is no exception. I am sure that when Whitley says that a value claim “does not express any universal truth”, this is something he hopes we will take as universally true. If he doesn’t, then there would be no point in making the statement, or any statement, because they are just subjective opinions. When Whitley says McBrayer’s view and pursuit of facts is “not the sort of work in which we should want our schools engaged”, he reveals his own moral values in what “we” (universal) “should” (morally obligated) do. Any worldview that sees no moral facts uses a moral basis for the same claim, because at the most basic level, there is a moral rightness or wrongness to how we choose to view reality. It’s convenient for secularists to deny moral facts, but we affirm their existence by the way we speak and live. We may be right or wrong about what a moral fact states, but we are keenly aware of the ontological reality of objective moral facts.

It’s even evident in the stories we dream up. Everyone agrees it’s wrong for one race to invade and destroy another race from a distant galaxy, even though their planets and evolutionary history are completely separate. Even in our fiction, we can’t imagine a world without objective and universal moral truth. When skeptics make moral judgments about what ancient cultures did, or about what God did in the Bible thousands of years ago in a different part of the world,they are imagining we all fit under the same transcendent moral umbrella.

Whitley explains the apparent “naturalized” nature of moral facts by saying that such decisions are rather based on “arbitrary (and self-serving) decisions made by social actors over a long period of time and the subsequent implementation of a policy…”. He is assuming (without observation or experimentation) that over “a long period of time” the most popular social norms became so engrained in our practice that we now view them as universal or objectively true. But if we are intellectually capable of having a philosophical discussion about how we tricked ourselves into thinking subjective opinion is objective fact, why do we still live as if moral facts exist?

Whitley’s critique of the moral value of “all men are created equal” is interesting. He calls it androcentric, but “men” here means “mankind”, not just males. He is right that the founders who asserted this moral truth based it on Biblical principals that assume a Creator. It’s important to note that our deepest convictions are always based on something we cannot prove and therefore must believe on faith. Most secularists deny this, but nonetheless can’t produce a proof for relying on the basic laws of logic other than the basic laws of logic. Ultimately it’s circular, because at the base of our beliefs, whatever they may be, there is something we can’t prove by anything greater. That’s okay though, as long as what you assume makes sense of the reality you can actually observe and test. Faith in the Creator God described in the Bible makes sense of the fact that we can’t NOT know that objective, universal moral facts exist. If we suppose that moral values evolved over time, we are left with a chicken/egg dilemma. How do we call something moral before moral standards evolved? (https://godneighbor.wordpress.com/…/proof-of-an…/)

MARC

Mike, I’m really pleased you took this seriously. I agree it is a fun debate but that it can have serious ramifications.

I don’t think you show how “all men are created equal” is the same sort of statement as “2 plus 2 equals 4” — which I think is McBrayer’s premise. One is an opinion and one is a fact. In your last paragraph, you seem to say (in the logic sentence) that ultimately logic and, I suppose, mathematical “facts” can’t prove logic or math other than employing math and logic. Thus, faith. You’re missing, though, that ultimately, we don’t believe 2 and 2 makes 4 because we have faith, we assume 2 plus 2 equals 4 because assuming otherwise has never held to be true (empiricism) — the vast preponderance of incidents where adding two things to two things results in four things makes it absurd to act otherwise. You don’t walk through a closed wooden door for the same reason — it’s absurd based on your experience to expect that you would go through it. That is a categorically different kind of knowledge than “killing is wrong” or “all men are created equal.”

MIKE

Marc, thanks for the reply! I would agree that it’s hard to see the similarities between something like 2+2=4 and “All men are created equal”. They are the same in that both have the potential to be true or false regardless of our knowledge or belief about them. 

The difference really is one is much easier to demonstrate and prove than the other. 2+2=4 can be shown by taking any 2 material objects and adding two more to get four (fingers, coins, cars, etc). Numbers are conceptual until there is something available to quantify, and we are surrounded by things to count, add, subtract, etc. This leaves little room for faith. If we didn’t have such things available, math would be very difficult to explain and you’d have a lot of skeptics doubting your faith in or opinion about the equation. Even equations on paper are only meaningful because written numbers and symbols correspond to things or events or ideas we can observe and count. When math strays away from pure numbers we may lose some followers when dealing with abstract concepts like infinity, because infinity is either impossible or literally takes forever.  But simple 2+2 can be demonstrated and at least as long as we have seen, always makes 4.

God creating anything cannot be proven, but it may still be true. Facts are defined as true regardless of perspective, and it’s also the case that I believe it to be true in my opinion. (That doesn’t make it true or factual, just noting where opinion fits in). Several reasons exist why Creation is impossible to prove: 1) It was in the past and we are not there to observe it (math is present and observable), 2) We are not God and cannot simulate/test His assignment of worth to human beings, and 3) While creation is material and present, God is spirit and therefore unfit for material testing.

Imagine an object on the far side of moon. It has definite properties and it in fact exists apart from our knowledge of it, and since we cannot get to it, we would never know it existed unless it was revealed to us somehow. Christians believe that God reveals Himself in His word. We can’t prove this so ultimately it’s faith-based belief. Hebrews 13 says that “by faith we understand…”, meaning for some things, faith must come before we can say we “know” something is true. Basic “self-evident” axioms we hold to a priori don’t require proof but we presuppose them as facts in order to prove supported beliefs.

Examples are natural and moral laws, which we call “laws” not because we wrote them. Like the law of uniformity, gravity, or cause and effect, we discovered patterns and consistencies in nature and dubbed them “laws”, because they seem to be reliable, governing, and are followed, like the laws we are familiar with in everyday life. But laws we observe everyday require a law-giver; someone writes them. Can a mindless universe that began as just matter and motion produce the laws of logic? Nothing we observe now indicates this. Why do we treat moral law (I.e. “Murder is wrong”) as if it should apply to everyone, everywhere, for all time, if it’s supposed to have evolved? Laws we create have limited jurisdictions. Why is there order and uniformity in the universe that actually allows us to predict, experiment, and make assumptions about the future based on the past if the universe is the product of chance? Even “the vast preponderance of incidents where adding two things to two things results in four” relies on an assumption that the future will be like the past, order that shouldn’t exist in a random universe. However, if the God of the Bible exists, then these laws make sense (God is logical, moral, and orderly), and our dependence on these laws makes sense.

John MacArthur on Morality in Sports and the Culture

February 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lance_Armstrong_(Tour_Down_Under_2009)

Lance Armstrong

For world-class champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, it is apparently easier to score hundreds of athletic victories and beat cancer than it is to beat peer pressure. Lance was recently asked if he would use illegal drugs to enhance his performance if he could do it all over again. Lance replied, “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again because I don’t think you have to. If you take me back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again.” This is not to excuse his choice, but it’s a parable of how hard it is to do the right thing counter-culture, when “everyone’s doing it.”

In a story about deception in athletics covering this and the over-inflated “Deflate-gate” that overtook the media before the Super Bowl, Fox News’ Gerri Willis asked notable Christian author and pastor John MacArthur what he thought about the state of honesty in American sports. I couldn’t find a transcript, so I made my own from a video I found on YouTube, because I think MacArthur’s response is worth reading.

GW: “Is there no expectation of honesty anymore from our athletes? With us now, John MacArthur, Senior pastor at the Grace Community Church in CA. Pastor, welcome back to the show. What happened? Should we have no expectation of honesty in sports?”

JM: “Do we have an expectation of honesty everywhere else in this culture? Sports aren’t certainly going to set the standard for ethics; they’re not going to set the standard for morality. I mean, it takes seven officials to basically rule a football game because guys are working so hard to break the rule and not get caught, they have to have that many people to find them. There are replay booths, and you know all of the things that go in replay. They try to find out the reality, because you really don’t want to just ask someone, because you’re not likely to get the truth. It’s a culture full of deception, full of lies. It’s a part of who America has become, and it’s simply reflected on every level. There are things to this culture far more important than the truth, and that’s really sad, because that’s when society begins to break down. It shows up in business, with all the scams and all the false business practices and all the cheating and scheming. Look it happens to people who are cheating on their income tax… you might find out the IRS is cheating on the other end. It’s part of the fabric of a post-Christian culture.”

GW: “The tragedy in this in many ways is that kids really look up to these professional athletes. I think that Lance Armstrong was followed by small kids… and all of these professionals, really, they just attract all these kids. How do we deal with that?”

Not real sharks

Not real sharks

JM: “Let me put it this way: We’ve got all the wrong heroes. Nobody knows Lance Armstrong. Nobody knows Tom Brady. When I say that, [I mean] the vast number of people in the world who see them on a flat screen, they don’t know these people. So the heroes are people who do something. What we need are heroes of character, heroes of integrity, heroes whose lives are righteous, virtuous. Heroes who sacrifice themselves for the sake of honesty and decency and truth and who make a difference in the world because of their character. That is why the church is so critical. That is why the Bible is so critical, because there you have a transcendent, divine standard of ethics, behavior, morality and righteousness that isn’t just up for grabs. It’s a fixed set of absolutes, and when they’re in place and everybody lives to that level it makes a difference.”<

GW: “What I think is so interesting in what you’re saying right now is there is this defining down all the time [of] what’s acceptable, what works, what we’re willing to put up with. Do you think what’s going on is because we’re so divided? There was a Fox News poll, and I want to get your reaction to it. The question was, “What best describes America today?” 73% of the folks said a dysfunctional family. Do you agree with that?”

JM: “Well, absolutely. I would say if you don’t think we have dysfunctional families in America, you’re probably in a dysfunctional family and can’t see the reality of it. The family is the building block of culture, the building block of society. It’s how truth, integrity, goodness, values, virtue is passed down from one generation to the next. And as the family is literally disintegrating before us with massive amounts of divorce, people living together without being married, making kids live in fear of what their future is, kids home alone being raised by these flat screen media personalities… Of course the family is breaking down. And with people wanting to redefine what is marriage, what is a family, it is a disaster. And as the family breaks down, the building block of civilization, culture, society that protects us with virtue disintegrates.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.50.00 PM

Gerri Willis with John MacArthur on Fox News

GW: “You know, I think what’s interesting is we also just fail to communicate with each other, I mean on a very basic level, because we are that dysfunctional family that can’t talk to each other, that doesn’t trust each other. That basic communication and trust that you would normally like to see just isn’t there. Do you agree?”

JM: “I absolutely agree, Gerri, and it’s because we do have a deceptive, lying culture. Lying is okay. Deceiving is okay. You can lie if you’re a politician, if you’re a senator, if you’re a congressman. You can lie if you’re the president, you can cover the truth, you can send out deceptive information. You can lie if you’re a professor and you want to do a revisionist view of history so that you can change the morality of a generation of young people. You can lie if you can get away with it in your business. We reward lying and deception. We have allowed ourselves to think that anything is okay if it gets me what I want. And when truth isn’t the seal that holds relationships together, you can’t trust anybody. If you can’t trust anybody, you can’t respect anybody, and if you can’t respect anybody, you can’t have a relationship that has any meaning.”

“We’ve got all the wrong heroes” indeed.

“All have sinned and fall short…” (Romans 3:23)

A previous post I wrote about Lance, Thor and Ideal Heroism:
(https://godneighbor.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/lance-thor-and-ideal-heroism/)

For more from John MacArthur, visit GTY.org

Dawkins’ Non-apology is an Apologetic for Atheism

August 27, 2014 § 8 Comments

Last week, atheist Richard Dawkins tweeted to a follower who had pondered the moral dilemma of being pregnant with a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She called it a “real ethical dilemma.” It wasn’t so much of a dilemma for Richard Dawkins, who responded: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” This of course ignited a firestorm of debate for and against his sentiments. Mostly against.

EHAJKwNKnowing full well the reality that much meaning can get lost in the limitations of a 140 character Tweet, Dawkins wrote what he calls an “apology” on his web site the next day. Although the post was more of a clarification of his Tweet than a rescinding of it. He says that if he were allowed more than 140 characters, his reply would be this:

“Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do.  I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.”

What he clarifies in his post is that he really meant what most people thought he said in the tweet. He exhibits really no fundamental change of heart.

The “apology” portion is on par with what many celebrities and political figures offer as an apology. His words: “Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose. Of course this was absolutely not my intention and I apologise if brevity made it look that way.” And then, “I regret using abbreviated phraseology which caused so much upset.”

Maybe a little Apology 101 is in order. A true apology expresses something like, “What I did was wrong”, or, “I regret what I said and I intend to change my direction.” What produced the greatest offense is what he said—that unborn children with Downs Syndrome are probably not worth saving—not necessarily how he said it. Dawkins’ apology centers on how he said it. It was more akin to “I’m sorry if you were upset or misunderstood.” An apology is one time where the offender should seek the spotlight, owning up to what he has said or done; the focus is on his actions and his appeal for forgiveness or an offer of restitution. Dawkins may regret the fact that controversy erupted, or feel sorry that others were incapable of seeing it his way.

The remaining two-thirds of his “apology” post was directed to “the haters” who were upset with him. Then he concludes: “what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.”

Far from an apology, his post is closer to an apologetic for the utilitarian brand of Atheism revealed in his pro-choice logic. Dawkins says, “My true intention was, as stated at length above, simply to say what I personally would do, based upon my own assessment of the pragmatics of the case, and my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.”

Without God, the highest achievement can only be one’s own temporal happiness. Without God, personhood is endowed on a sliding scale according to a child’s growth toward (or an aging person’s growth away from) usefulness, a “a gradual, ‘fading in/fading’ out definition.” Without God, humanity has no value beyond what some men consider useful, so “the decision to abort can be a moral one.” Without God, there is no objective moral standard for good and evil, right and wrong, yet the moral law written on every fellow human heart created in God’s image compels even atheists to reason about “moral” choices, despite the reductio ad absurdum. That Law on our hearts can be suppressed for a lifetime, but ultimately convicts. Atheism is in every case a temporary state (Romans 14:11,12; Philippians 2:10,11).

Richard Dawkins’ pro-abortion statements make perfect sense on Atheism, which would make a genuine about-face apology quite unexpected anyway.

“Mild Pedophilia” in Light of Atheism

September 13, 2013 § 7 Comments

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This article cites a recent London Times interview with perhaps the world’s best known atheist Richard Dawkins that doesn’t even touch on atheism or religion. Instead the controversy over the article was spawned by Dawkin’s seemingly cavalier outlook on what he terms “mild pedophilia.”

Dawkins states:

“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.”

I think this is unavoidably ABOUT the atheism that Dawkins subscribes to, which logically requires him to say that we “can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours.” In an atheistic worldview, moral standards are in constant flux because they are subject to popular opinion, not given by a moral law-giving God (a God Dawkins ironically chooses to morally judge by His actions in a much earlier era).

Confusion over moral issues is something we should always expect in an atheist’s worldview.

(Stemming from one blogger’s comment below, an extended debate about slavery in the Bible, and the origins of morality and logic, can be found here. )

Why Sex Before Marriage Isn’t a ‘Test Drive’

March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013-Opel-Cascada-Test-Drive-1024x819I happened to catch this morning’s Valentine in the Morning show where radio host Sean Valentine posed a question to see what people thought about waiting to have sex until marriage. Of the various opinions called in, one with a few proponents was, basically, “You’ve got to test drive that car before you buy it.”

As wrong as I think it is to compare people to cars and marriage to a sales transaction, I understand the analogy. We don’t want to leap into the pool without testing the water.

This line of reasoning is nonsensical, and we can see that by asking the following question: What exactly are we “testing” for that makes a “test drive” necessary?

If it’s some kind of transmittable disease, then the results of any “tests” can and ought to be disclosed with your clothes on. If it’s some other known health issue, this ought to come out in conversation in the course of the relationship. It’s hard to imagine a deal-breaker intimacy issue that can’t be talked about in advance rather than vetted in a “test drive.”

What we’re most interested in when test driving a car is performance. If the concern is your ideal expectation of “performance level” in bed, then that becomes more important than how a person performs as a faithful and supportive spouse, as a sincere lover and leader, and as a committed father or mother to your children. These characteristics are assessed in other ways. Are you really going to judge what should be a lifelong commitment on the thrill level or whatever initial impression you hope to get from a sexual test drive? If that’s the case, you’re not ready for any kind of serious relationship.

Sex is important—critical, in fact, to the survival of the humanity. Fortunately, the important thing we need to know about sex at any stage of life is that men and women are well-capable of it. The experience of sex is meant to be discovered within the experience of a committed marriage, and is too important to tested in situations outside of that relationship. It is also too simple of a process to require practice, and too deep and meaningful of a connection to merely sample. We are really going after something like ownership without the commitment of ownership. A short-term “lease”, in fact. So the “test drive” logic fails.

Sex is fun and we want it without limitations. This is the truth behind the “test drive”, a means to justify sex in spite of where our moral conscience might be telling us it belongs.

And about that conscience: One caller expressed regret that she had NOT waited until marriage because she was now having difficulty convincing her teenaged daughter to wait. Mom didn’t so why should she? That’s a dilemma indeed. We apparently know that even though we might advocate a past lifestyle, when it comes to teaching our children, we want something better.

Even though in secular culture we’ve largely abandoned Biblical values that show us God’s design for sex within the context of marriage, it seems the values still get called upon. Those who prefer abstinence can’t always articulate why we want our children to marry as virgins, and even those who prefer to “test drive” can’t articulate why we still stigmatize others who do. But we inherently know there is a respectable standard that says waiting for marriage is just a better way to go.

The Logical Failure of Moral Evolution

December 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

Logic shows that the universal applicability of moral obligations makes it impossible for them to have developed through Naturalistic Evolution.

1. Some humans hold that moral obligations evolve.
2. Moral obligations that evolved in humans should only be applied to humans.
3. Humans apply moral obligations to humans and also to intelligent beings in the universe including God, whether real or imaginary.
4. Humans do not apply moral obligations exclusively to humans.
5. Therefore, humans who hold that moral obligations evolved are inconsistent.

Put in a more Aristotelian way…

Major premise: Moral obligations are universal.
Minor premise: Moral obligations produced by Evolution cannot be universal.
Conclusion: Evolution did not produce moral obligations.

Deductive reasoning also demonstrates that Evolution could not have turned non-moral action into moral action.

1. Humans had a beginning.
2. Humans are moral beings, performing moral good.
3. A first morally good act performed by humans must have existed.
4. The first morally good act was morally good by a pre-existing standard.
5. Therefore, moral good must have existed before the first human moral act.

For more on these lines of reasoning, see Proof of an External Source for Human Morality.

Pro-Abortion, Pro-life and the Importance of Consistency

November 6, 2012 § 15 Comments

A recent post, Fetal Personhood and Criminalizing Abortion: A Prosecutor’s Perspective, was written by a criminal prosecutor who feels she has a unique perspective on abortion, and indeed she does. In particular she exposes the inconsistency in many pro-life claims and the difficulty of prosecuting parents if abortion were criminalized. For the most part, I agree with those sentiments.

She says that “an abortion ban that leaves exceptions in place only for instances of rape, incest or life of the mother” is in essence “a pro-choice position.” This is technically true. In the classic exception “hard cases” that many pro-lifers concede, there is a choice to be made where death will result.


I agree with the author that exceptions made in the cases of rape and incest do not morally belong in a pro-life position. A pro-life position is concerned with the preservation of life, and such an accommodation is inconsistent if it considers the circumstances that led to the unwanted pregnancy. Regardless of the intentions of the parents, the child is innocent of any civil crime deserving death.

“…if you actually believe that a zygote is a person, then how can you demand anything less than justice for the murder victim?”  Exactly.

The only possible exception I can see to prohibiting abortion is a case where the mother’s life is genuinely in danger if the pregnancy carries to term. This is a choice made when there is no available choice to save a life. Tragically, someone dies regardless.

The only upside to these cases are that they are extremely rare. Put together, these hard cases account for less than 1% of all abortions. Over 99% of all abortions are basically a form of birth control.

Convenience has always been a factor in abortion. It would be ignorant to say it’s an easy decision, but it’s seen as a choice that ultimately eases a burden. This leads to the other point the author makes: If abortion were outlawed with the exception of the hard cases, it would cause an “unequivocally impossible enforcement situation.” How would we easily determine if those situations apply?

“…how does a woman who qualifies for one of these exceptions go about availing herself of the exception? Are we going to take the pregnant woman’s word for it that she was raped (somehow I suspect that the answer to this question will be “no”)? Is there going to be a form that she has to fill out? Will she be placed under oath? Will there be post-abortion investigations by the police to ensure that she was truthful when she said that she was raped? If we aren’t going to just take her word for it, what will be the mechanism for fact finding we will use?”

These are a small portion of the potential complexities the author ponders. Her focus is clearly on how inconvenient and impractical it would seem to enforce a law prohibiting abortion with the hard case exceptions. A consistent pro-life position asserts that abortion is murder, and any difficulty in dealing with murderers should come secondary to the axiom that we need to deal with murderers, despite the impractical nature of some rare cases. We don’t overlook murder because it’s hard to prosecute. The difficulty would come from criminalizing something that should have never been legal in the first place—of course that will cause a rift. But this is where we start to see the internal inconsistency in abortion logic.

What’s more, something of a genetic fallacy shows up in her discomfort in the opinions of those who are neither women nor pregnant.

“I am more than a little bit uncomfortable about being legally mandated to prosecute other women because they have terminated a pregnancy when it is a bunch of non-pregnant people – many of whom are men who can’t even become pregnant – who don’t think her reason was ‘good enough’ to be ‘legal’.”

If something is morally wrong, the gender or experience of those challenging abortion doesn’t change the truth of the matter. Obviously this is an obstacle for the author.

Even without dealing with exceptions, I suspect the author wishes never to have to prosecute any kind of abortion. She doesn’t view abortion as morally wrong. This criminal prosecutor recognizes that to identify murderers of adults and ignore murderers of the unborn would be inconsistent, so this is the obvious solution to the dilemma. And this is managed in the usual pro-abortion fashion of denying the personhood of a developing child in the womb. Interestingly, we call it a baby or son or daughter when we want it and a fetus or zygote or “cluster of cells” when we don’t. A proud expectant mother doesn’t joyously declare, “We’re having a fetus!”

Truly, if personhood doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin? Theories about various stages of pregnancy abound—implantation, segmentation, brain function, fetal viability—even the ridiculous idea that the moment of birth signals the magical entrance of humanity, when the baby finally exits the birth canal into open air. On the fringe, some extremists like Peter Singer suggest personhood is established long after birth.

Regardless, the concession of most pro-abortionists is that the beginning of personhood is still up for debate, while at the same time they adamantly assert that killing a fetus at almost any point during the pregnancy is an acceptable choice. If we haven’t settled on when life becomes valuable, how can we be settled that abortion is right? This is the grand moral inconsistently and the absurdity of abortion.

Christians know from the internally consistent Word of God that all human life, created in the image of the Creator (Genesis 1:27) , has inherent value, regardless of the cause or circumstances surrounding pregnancy.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16; See also Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 1:41,44, Galatians 1:15, and Ephesians 1:3,4)

There is an “us” before birth, and there is a plan for us long before we arrive. While medical science grapples with the mysteries of life’s origin, our God-given sense of morality (Romans 2:15) testifies that the pre-born are already more than just a “cluster of cells.” Many who convince themselves otherwise are willing to trade this knowledge for the convenience of abortion. The inconsistency is ignored, along with the sanctity of life in the most helpless among us.

Pro-lifers, be consistent in your convictions. Don’t embrace exceptions that may allow rapists to go to jail, but also allow killers to go free, and condemn the innocent to death without a trial. And love your neighbor from conception to the end of their natural life, praying that the span between the two isn’t cut short by abortion.

[Related post: Celebrating Roe v Wade’s Anniversary (or Why Hardly Anyone Is)]

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