On the war on abortion and incitment to terrorism

RD (a Conservative Christian blogger and apologist) recently released a comment on my blog which made me truly shudder.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: I made mistakes concerning the person of RD. and sincerely apologize for this. See my note at the end of the post.

 

http://rightsadvocate.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/screen-shot-2012-10-21-at-5-01-39-pm.png

“Dear Michael East

You said:

The anti-abortionists who support the killing of abortionists can hardly be called pro-life!

Actually, the issue is not nearly as cut-and-dry as you try to make it out to be. If an individual truly believes that an unborn child is a human being, then if that individual takes action, up to and potentially including the use of deadly force in order to protect the life of the unborn child, and in so doing, the individual uses deadly force to stop the abortionist in question, then there is nothing inconsistent with maintaining such a position and with being pro-life. In fact, it is no different, in principle, from a pro-life person who has to use deadly force to stop someone from killing a newborn or from a pro-life person who uses deadly force to stop a serial killer from murdering a family. In all these cases, the pro-life person—as a last resort—must use deadly force in order to protect human life. And so that person would be entirely consistent in claiming to be pro-life while at the same time having had to use deadly force to protect a third-party from serious bodily harm or death. Now, of course, the person would also be under the obligation to use only as much force as is necessary to stop the threat, and thus lethal force would rarely be justified, but that does not mean that the use of lethal force would be illegitimate in such a case. It just means that its use would be rare. And while this latter fact makes the use of the third-party protection principle difficult to practically justify in the case of abortionists—both due to the fact that the State already knows about abortionists and does nothing, and due to the fact that using less than lethal force is difficult in such cases—the practical reality does nothing to negate that this idea is completely sound in principle.

In addition, note that given that my reasoning concerning the legitimacy of using lethal force in protecting a third-party is obviously sound in principle, and thus it would apply to unborn children if they were considered human beings under the law, then this means that if unborn children were considered human beings under the law, then you, I, and everyone else would literally be under a legal obligation to do our utmost, up to and including the use of lethal force, to stop any abortionist from plying his “trade” if unborn children were legally considered human beings. So far from there being an inconsistency in the pro-life position and a position which endorses the stopping of abortionists, if unborn children were considered human beings, then that sort of position would actually be required by law.

Finally, let me just note that when you really think about this issue the real inconsistency and incoherence is on the side of the pro-abortionists. After all, the pro-abortionist is someone who must support the following absurd position: if, one minute before birth, someone stops an abortionist from killing the nearly born child, then pro-abortionists consider that person to be a monster and a pro-life “terrorist”; but if that same person stopped some random murderer from killing that child one minute after it was born, then that person would be hailed as a hero and a “child-savior.” In my view, the patent absurdity of holding such a view is evident to anyone with eyes to see it. And yet, for the pro-abortionist, this is, necessarily, the view that he must, in principle, hold.”

 

I’ve long laughed at people telling me that there are Christian Talibans in America who want to bring about a violent theocracy. Now I realize I no longer can. In what follows, I want to offer my thoughts on his argument.

 

Killing an abortionist for saving an innocent life

 

I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby and agree with RD that there is no rational criterion for distinguishing the killing of a “nearly born child” from one who just saw the light of day. I’m in very good company here, since the prominent bio-ethicist Peter Singer tells us that we should be allowed to annihilate disabled children until their 30th day.

But I completely reject the use of violence for preventing any abortion from happening and am utterly horrified by this very idea.

 

Basically, RD’s reasoning can be summarized as follows:

1) It is always permissible to kill someone who is about to consciously put an end to an innocent human life.

2) Abortionists are consciously putting an end to many innocent human lives.

3) Thus it is allowed to kill abortionists.

 

There are many things wrong with this line of reasoning.

2) does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of abortionists I know are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and that killing them is as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

It goes without saying I strongly disagree with that but I don’t view them as moral monsters at all. Most abortion physicians act in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that If you were blind, you would have no sin.

 

1) is outrageously false in many respects.

A consequentialist justification of terrorism

If 1) were to be consistently applied elsewhere, all societies would be plagued by an endless cycle of violence. As a Conservative Evangelical (Correction: RD is a conservative Catholic), RD tends to focus most of his moral indignation on sexual sins such as abortion (and alleged sins such as homosexuality).

But there are lots of other things people do which indirectly cause many innocent persons to pass away.

During the Bush administration, Dick Cheney (and many of his colleagues) consciously started a gruesome war in Iraq which has caused countless innocent children and civilians to perish under an atrocious pain.

https://matrixbob.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/dick-cheney-iraq-1111111111111111.gif?w=800&h=538

If 1) were true, it would certainly have been moral for any member of the American Left to try to liquidate him.

Or what about economically Conservative politicians whose decisions cause countless children in the third world to starve and perish?

What about American Republican politicians who cause poor children to die because they don’t receive a sufficient healthcare?

Or what about immoral CEOs whose decisions can predictably  lead many of their employees to commit suicide (as it occurred in the enterprise of my father)?

 

You see, all terrorist groups around the world (both secular and religious) use such a logic for justifying the use of “lethal” violence. I’ve absolutely no doubt that our society would very soon become a hopeless hell if 1) were to be adopted by a sufficiently large number of individuals.

Violence and the early Christians.

 

There were many people causing countless innocent lives to pass away in Judah and Israel at the time of Christ. The Zealots were preaching armed resistance against the misdeeds of the Roman occupants.

Yet, Jesus wasn’t one of them and consistently rejected the use of  violence against anyone. Following His example, the early Christians were horrified at the Roman custom to kill disabled children but they never murdered the perpetrators. They tried to change the societal mentalities underlying those cruel customs in a non-violent fashion.

Since RD is a fiery defender of Biblical inerrancy (Correction: RD is a Catholic basing himself on the Catechism of the Church of Rom for such matters), I want to quote verses which should put an end to any discussion:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

 

The culture war and the roots of the problem

 

I would go farther than that and affirm that wanting to bring about laws forbidding abortion isn’t a solution at all. It is like a doctor prescribing pain killers to a patient while completely ignoring the cancer devouring his cells.

It is the numerous societal, social, psychological and economical factors that push women to choose to abort which need to be changed.

If we lived in a really compassionate and egalitarian society where sex, love and commitment always form an unbreakable trinity, abortion would be almost entirely limited to cases where the health of the female is seriously threatened.

 

The danger of sanctioning the use of terror

 

I have nothing at all against RD and neither hate nor despise him. But what he wrote here is undoubtedly egregious and I just couldn’t not react to that even though I feel no personal enmity towards him.

Being a Continental European (Germanic Frenchman), I ignore what the consequences in America might be. But if he were a French or German citizen having written that, he would now be (at the very least) closely watched by the French or German intelligence agencies and most likely condemned to prison for “incitement to violent acts.”

EVEN IF he did not call anyone to directly do that, it is undeniable he has unwittingly provided a justification for violent actions against physicians and nurses carrying out abortions. And mentally unstable people could very well take him extremely seriously.

I’d advise him (and any other “Christian Righter” reading this) to become much more cautious in their writings and other assertions in the public sphere.

Of course, my hope is that it is their whole mentality which will change, following what I’ve outlined here.

 

Note: RD posted a strongly spirited answer here. He correctly pointed up mistakes I did concerning him being American, Evangelical and Conservative.

 

 

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127 thoughts on “On the war on abortion and incitment to terrorism

  1. Hmm…. you say:

    There are many things wrong with this line of reasoning.

    2) does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of abortionists I know are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and that killing them is as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

    It goes without saying I strongly disagree with that but I don’t view them as moral monsters at all.

    – but that doesn´t address RD´s point:

    If an individual TRULY BELIEVES that an unborn child is a human being, then if that individual takes action, up to and potentially including the use of deadly force in order to protect the life of the unborn child, and in so doing, the individual uses deadly force to stop the abortionist in question, then there is nothing inconsistent with maintaining such a position and with being pro-life.

    (Emphasis added)

    – based on the premise that a human in any stage of development between conception and birth is a human person (or morally equivalent to a human person), what RD says here indeed *does* follow. Your response is essentially to point out that someone who doesn´t agree with this premise doesn´t affirm the conclusion that abortion is the deliberate killing of a human person, and thus not a moral monster – but that is beside the point, because RD argued from the perspective that this premise is *true*, you respond to it from the perspective that it is *false*, so you talk past each other.

    At least for this part, I agree with RD.

    This part from RD however is complete nonsense :

    Finally, let me just note that when you really think about this issue the real inconsistency and incoherence is on the side of the pro-abortionists. After all, the pro-abortionist is someone who must support the following absurd position: if, one minute before birth, someone stops an abortionist from killing the nearly born child, then pro-abortionists consider that person to be a monster and a pro-life “terrorist”; but if that same person stopped some random murderer from killing that child one minute after it was born, then that person would be hailed as a hero and a “child-savior.” In my view, the patent absurdity of holding such a view is evident to anyone with eyes to see it.

    – the position that RD describes here is indeed an absurd position, and it doesn´t get any less absurd when you would substitute the moment of birth with the moment of conception or any other moment in human development. The absurdity comes from trying to impose a binary switch on a continuum – the continuum of human development. If your position entails that there is a discrete moment in human development where there is a binary change between “not a human person in any way” to “fully human person”, then you have to face this absurdity that RD points out here, and it is absurd for any moment in development you choose, be it ovulation, conception, implantation, first heart beat, first brain activity or whatever. It´s essentially a form of the sorites paradox.
    Also, the “pro-abortionist” doesn´t have to support this nonsense that RD describes here at all, it would be news to me that a pro-choicer necessarily has to support a woman´s right to have recreational abortions moments before natural birth for the lulz (because we all know that *this* is what pro-choice women actually want amirite?! Get knocked up, stop using their silly ladybrainz for 9 months and then think a moment before birth “yeah, I guess I don´t want this child after all, whatever, one abortion please!” [/sarcasm])

    • Andy,

      I have to strongly disagree with your assertion that the absurd position is the one that views human beings as a binary switch rather than a continuum. Human development certainly takes place on a continuum, but it is a continuum that runs right from conception to death. To follow your lead and to say at one point on the continuum we don’t have a person, while at another point we do, doesn’t match up with the logical conclusion that what we are dealing with is a person regardless of where it sits on the continuum of development. You’re creating a sorites paradox by viewing personhood as an acquired element, rather than something integral. What’s important is whether or not we have sand, rather than whether or not we have a heap.

      The continuum you mention is not really measuring personhood at all, all it really represents is something like age or complexity. To view personhood as a continuum means we’re dealing with partial persons, which is far more of an absurdity. Even worse, once we allow for the possibility that some individuals have more personhood than others, it opens the door to all sorts of evils as ranking and determining levels of personhood becomes a legitimate enterprise.

      • Hi Jake,

        Human development certainly takes place on a continuum, but it is a continuum that runs right from conception to death.

        Why conception instead of an earlier moment? Why not ovulation? Why not go back all the way to meiosis?

        To follow your lead and to say at one point on the continuum we don’t have a person, while at another point we do, doesn’t match up with the logical conclusion that what we are dealing with is a person regardless of where it sits on the continuum of development.
        You’re creating a sorites paradox by viewing personhood as an acquired element, rather than something integral. What’s important is whether or not we have sand, rather than whether or not we have a heap.

        Alright, since you opt for conception as the magic moment, you´d say that this:

        – IS a human person, but this:

        – is NOT a human person.
        I will disagree with you for the sake of the argument and say that BOTH are a human person. How do justify discriminating against unfertilized eggs by denying them full personhood status?

        The continuum you mention is not really measuring personhood at all, all it really represents is something like age or complexity. To view personhood as a continuum means we’re dealing with partial persons, which is far more of an absurdity.

        Well, “personhood” is notoriously ill-defined, but your conception of what “person” means has to exclude literally *everything* that depends on a brain – so what are you left with? What does the word “person” then mean to you?

      • “Well, “personhood” is notoriously ill-defined, but your conception of what “person” means has to exclude literally *everything* that depends on a brain – so what are you left with? What does the word “person” then mean to you?”

        Andy,

        In my mind, “person” should refer to any individual human being from the moment we have a distinct organism. An unfertilized egg, as far as I understand, would not be classified as a distinct organism since it lacks the capacity for development and growth without some kind of outside factor acting upon it. It follows the same logic as why an amoeba would be classified as a distinct organism, but pulling a skin cell off my finger would not.

        Now maybe there is some error in my understanding of biology, but rather than discuss that, I’d rather hear from you what personhood entails. Having a definition that relies on brain function as you seem to be implying is absurd to me, as brain function can vary wildly depending on a variety of factors such as stage of development, injury, under the influence of drugs, etc, and to base personhood on such a factor depersonalizes and dehumanizes others unjustly. Perhaps you have a better explanation of what personhood entails and what the continuum is actually measuring, but every attempted explanation I’ve been given is either lacking or leads to absurdities.

        Basically, if your continuum argument is to make sense or be of any value at all, you need to show what actually changes to make a 1 day old embryo less of a person than a 6 week old with a functioning brain, and a 6 week old less than a 24 week old at the moment of viability, and a 24 week old less than a full term moments before birth, and a full term child moments before birth less than a full term moments after birth, and what makes a newborn more of a person than a moderately intelligent animal, and what makes a newborn no less of a person than a fully developed adult.

      • In my mind, “person” should refer to any individual human being from the moment we have a distinct organism. An unfertilized egg, as far as I understand, would not be classified as a distinct organism since it lacks the capacity for development and growth without some kind of outside factor acting upon it.

        If you remove the fertilized egg from the womb, it will die. The fertilized and the unfertilized egg are not different wrt how “autonomous” (for lack of a better word) they are – both are not autonomous.

        It follows the same logic as why an amoeba would be classified as a distinct organism, but pulling a skin cell off my finger would not.

        For the sake of the argument I will just grant you that the fertilized egg is “distinct” (although it is in reality certainly not that, at least not in the sense of biological autonomy) while the unfertilized egg is not. Why is this a morally relevant difference while brain activity (for example) is not a morally relevant difference? “Distinctness” seems to be a completely arbitrary criterion and I fail to see how this would justify denying unfertilized eggs personhood status.

        Now maybe there is some error in my understanding of biology, but rather than discuss that, I’d rather hear from you what personhood entails. Having a definition that relies on brain function as you seem to be implying is absurd to me, as brain function can vary wildly depending on a variety of factors such as stage of development, injury, under the influence of drugs, etc, and to base personhood on such a factor depersonalizes and dehumanizes others unjustly.

        I see it exactly the other way around – if the moment of conception is what makes all the difference between something that is a human person and something that is not a human person, then this reduces what it means to be human to a biochemical triviality (one that is in principle fully reversible btw), I cannot imagine anything more dehumanizing than that.
        I think the difference in our perspective can be illustrated with a thought experiment: if we´d surgically remove your brain and burn it, but keep what remains of your body alive aritificially, would you be “dead”? My answer would be “unequivocally yes”, because if I imagine “you” and substract from that all of your thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, memories, desires, dreams and so on and so forth, there wouldn´t be any “you” left, the body would be an empty shell. While for you, the removal of the brain would not change *anything* wrt your personhood status, you would be just as much a “human person” as you were before – and that is why I asked you what the concept “person” means to you then if it doesn´t rely in any way whatsoever on a brain?

        Basically, if your continuum argument is to make sense or be of any value at all, you need to show what actually changes to make a 1 day old embryo less of a person than a 6 week old with a functioning brain, and a 6 week old less than a 24 week old at the moment of viability, and a 24 week old less than a full term moments before birth, and a full term child moments before birth less than a full term moments after birth, and what makes a newborn more of a person than a moderately intelligent animal, and what makes a newborn no less of a person than a fully developed adult.

        An amoeba has no moral worth, a rabbit however has – at least that is the understanding that is widely agreed upon and the understanding that laws against animal cruelty rely on (you won´t get punished for animal cruelty in any country on this planet for killing an amoeba, or a fruit fly, but you will be punished for mistreating cats, dogs or cows for example). The capacity to feel pain and pleasure does make a moral difference, so does consciousness (which itself is a continuum, there is not just “conscious” and “unconscious” but rather many shades of grey in between) and an active will to live, and so on and so forth – and for a developing human, there is no moment where it aquires all of those attributes, some develop very early, and some develop very late. And a cell that has none of those attributes has exactly as much moral worth to me as an unfertilized human egg has moral worth to you.

        • I think the difference in our perspective can be illustrated with a thought experiment: if we´d surgically remove your brain and burn it, but keep what remains of your body alive aritificially, would you be “dead”? My answer would be “unequivocally yes”, because if I imagine “you” and substract from that all of your thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, memories, desires, dreams and so on and so forth, there wouldn´t be any “you” left, the body would be an empty shell. While for you, the removal of the brain would not change *anything* wrt your personhood status, you would be just as much a “human person” as you were before – and that is why I asked you what the concept “person” means to you then if it doesn´t rely in any way whatsoever on a brain?

          If you know your Aristotle, you can resolve this problem by referring to potentiality and actuality. Is there the potential for brain function? Yes for the fertilized egg, yes for the comatose person, no for the person with his brain burned.

      • “If you remove the fertilized egg from the womb, it will die. The fertilized and the unfertilized egg are not different wrt how “autonomous” (for lack of a better word) they are – both are not autonomous.”

        Autonomy is a funny determiner of personhood however. Depending on how you view free-will, maybe none of us are autonomous. Even if you grant that humans have free-will, I would be hard pressed to claim that a newborn contains any autonomy outside of their inborn desire to eat and stay warm. Also, if you remove me from the warm embrace of the earth’s atmosphere, I too will die; I don’t see what that has to do with personhood.

        I’m not sure I totally agree with your thought experiment. To fully remove my brain would permanently and forever remove my ability to grow, develop and carry on any of the activities associated with a human being. I would argue that part of being a person is having the potential for growth.

        If I may turn your thought experiment around, say you were put into a coma completely removing all brain function. Now this doesn’t have to be a permanent state, let’s say the effects of it only last for 9 months. During that time, you have no thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, memories, desires, dreams and so on and so forth. I say that during that time, you’re not really a person, since you are unable to express any of the characteristics that are essential for personhood under your proposed definition. Can you honestly say that in such a scenario, you would have no objections to the destruction of that life? And if so, I trust you can see where your own idea of what makes a person fails to be any more logically sound.

        You might call my position dehumanizing, but it has occurred to me that your position does not actually give any value to human beings. Your position assigns value to rationality, or complexity, or consciousness, but the only value you show to humans is totally incidental and dependent on the degree they can display these traits. Following such a position to it’s logical conclusion ends up looking quite ugly and opens the door to all sorts of moral atrocities, but maybe some are more fine with that than others.

      • Autonomy is a funny determiner of personhood however. Depending on how you view free-will, maybe none of us are autonomous. Even if you grant that humans have free-will, I would be hard pressed to claim that a newborn contains any autonomy outside of their inborn desire to eat and stay warm. Also, if you remove me from the warm embrace of the earth’s atmosphere, I too will die; I don’t see what that has to do with personhood.

        Autonomy wouldn´t be a relevant factor for me, but I thought it was one for you given that the only justification you could think of for granting a fertilized egg personhood status but not an unfertilized one, was that one is “distinct”. I wasn´t completely sure what exactly you mean by “distinct” and why whatever you meant is supposed to have moral relevance. Can you try to be a bit more specific why you believe that conception makes all the difference so that a fertilized human egg is a human person but an unfertilized human egg is not?

        I’m not sure I totally agree with your thought experiment. To fully remove my brain would permanently and forever remove my ability to grow, develop and carry on any of the activities associated with a human being. I would argue that part of being a person is having the potential for growth.

        And I wouldn´t disagree, I think that is part of what it means to be a human person. However, it is not something that would qualitatively distinguish a fertilized human egg from an unfertilized one – both have the potential to develop into an adult human being, the former is just a few steps more advanced in development than the latter is. So, mere potential is not sufficient to be a person, else we´d have to assign personhood status to *every* element in human reproduction between meiosis and adulthood.

        If I may turn your thought experiment around, say you were put into a coma completely removing all brain function. Now this doesn’t have to be a permanent state, let’s say the effects of it only last for 9 months. During that time, you have no thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, memories, desires, dreams and so on and so forth. I say that during that time, you’re not really a person, since you are unable to express any of the characteristics that are essential for personhood under your proposed definition. Can you honestly say that in such a scenario, you would have no objections to the destruction of that life? And if so, I trust you can see where your own idea of what makes a person fails to be any more logically sound.

        I disagree that I wouldn´t have all that while in a come without any brain activity. A memory that you are not recollecting right now (i.e. virtually all of your memories) is still an actual memory for example, *actual*, not potential, that is the reason for why suspending consciousness in such a way does not hinder a continuous conscious experience once you wake up again.
        And, again, there is a moral difference between things that are and things that could be – if you disagree that there is such a difference, then you will have a very hard time arguing for conception as the magic moment that makes all the difference, because mere potential is present in all earlier developmental states before conception as well (further, if the potential has the same worth as the actual, wouldn´t it then be a moral duty to have as much unprotected sex as possible to turn as many potential people into actual people?)

        You might call my position dehumanizing, but it has occurred to me that your position does not actually give any value to human beings. Your position assigns value to rationality, or complexity, or consciousness, but the only value you show to humans is totally incidental and dependent on the degree they can display these traits.

        And you do that as well, you just select different traits – there has to be a reason why the moment of conception makes all the difference to you and why you only consider everything what comes after conception to be a fully human person, but not what comes before.

      • “both have the potential to develop into an adult human being, the former is just a few steps more advanced in development than the latter is”

        I would argue that the potential of an unfertilized egg and a fertilized egg are different, in that an unfertilized egg if left to it’s own devices will simply die, while a fertilized egg will grow and develop unless acted upon by an outside force. This is where the concept of distinctness comes in; sperm and eggs are not distinct organism that exist separately from the respective male/female, a new life does.

        “A memory that you are not recollecting right now (i.e. virtually all of your memories) is still an actual memory”

        In the absence of consciousness, I really don’t know what memories are. It looks to me like they are nothing more than a particular collection and organization of brain cells, and under your position, the value given to individual cells is basically nothing. The actuality of memories is simply an illusion without the reality of consciousness, and in the scenario I described consciousness is only a potentiality, and therefor of no concern.

        “there has to be a reason why the moment of conception makes all the difference to you and why you only consider everything what comes after conception to be a fully human person, but not what comes before.”

        It seems pretty straightforward to me; if you take myself or just about any person on this planet, if you go backward in time, the first moment you can point to anything as “me” or as “mine” is the moment of conception. Before that, you have my mother’s egg and my father’s sperm, neither of which can be pointed to as an example of me, or as a human life at all.

        You’re mistaken if you think I don’t assign any value to what comes before conception. Both sperm and eggs are valuable because they are a part of individual human beings, and as such, individuals should have a measure of control over that aspect of their persons. What comes as a result of their joining belongs to neither of them however.

      • I would argue that the potential of an unfertilized egg and a fertilized egg are different, in that an unfertilized egg if left to it’s own devices will simply die, while a fertilized egg will grow and develop unless acted upon by an outside force. This is where the concept of distinctness comes in; sperm and eggs are not distinct organism that exist separately from the respective male/female, a new life does.

        That is not the case, a fertilized egg left to its own devices has no chance at all to develop into an adult human, it depends on outside factors –
        a uterus needs to be physically present where the fertilized egg can implant (to name only one essential factor), and the unfertilized egg needs all the same factors AND the physical presence of a sperm cell. Which means that one of those cell is just one step ahead of the other in development and the question now is why that step should make a morally relevant difference.

        In the absence of consciousness, I really don’t know what memories are.

        It´s very simple, imagine a dreamless sleep – when you awake from it, your beliefs, desires, fears, memories, convictions etc.pp. are still there and that is why you have a continuous experience of “being you”, even when this experience is interrupted a few hours by a dreamless sleep (or a few months in a coma).

        It looks to me like they are nothing more than a particular collection and organization of brain cells, and under your position, the value given to individual cells is basically nothing.

        Not basically nothing, rather absolutely nothing. But I doubt that you´d *really* disagree with that – you wouldn´t notice or care if I removed one water molecule from your liver, you also wouldn´t notice or care if I removed an entire cell from your liver, but you absolutely would notice and care if I removed your liver. As Aristotle said “the whole is not the sum of its parts”.

        It seems pretty straightforward to me; if you take myself or just about any person on this planet, if you go backward in time, the first moment you can point to anything as “me” or as “mine” is the moment of conception. Before that, you have my mother’s egg and my father’s sperm, neither of which can be pointed to as an example of me, or as a human life at all.

        That is false. There never is a moment in human reproduction where non-life turns into life, every element in the reproductive cycle IS “human life”. What you talk about is merely the first moment where “you” became a *genetically unique* individual (and even that is only approximately true). But you and I are not our genes, in fact my genes *alone*, by themselves, wouldn´t tell you very much about me as a person (they would tell you things like me being predisposed for early baldness (I got myself genotyped and I indeed am genetically predisposed for that, I still have full hair though 🙂 )). What you try to do here only works if it is actually possible to reduce what “human person” means completely to the genes that a human has, and even then it would lead to many absurd conclusions (like you and your monozygotic twin, if you had one, having been the *exact* same person for a while).

        You’re mistaken if you think I don’t assign any value to what comes before conception. Both sperm and eggs are valuable because they are a part of individual human beings, and as such, individuals should have a measure of control over that aspect of their persons.

        And in that sense, I would completely agree, a sperm cell (for example) has not a moral worth of 0. You don´t see what comes before conception as the moral equivalent of a fully human person though.

      • “It´s very simple, imagine a dreamless sleep – when you awake from it, your beliefs, desires, fears, memories, convictions etc.pp. are still there and that is why you have a continuous experience of “being you”, even when this experience is interrupted a few hours by a dreamless sleep (or a few months in a coma).”

        Yet none of those things are “actually” in existence if consciousness is not present, the best you can point to is a collection of cells. You might object if I remove the collection of cells responsible for consciousness, memories, dreams, etc, but given the lack of a “you” during the absence of any sort of brain function means there’s really no one to do the objecting. The actual amount of consciousness, feeling or memory (which is required under your position to identify value and personhood) that could be pointed to is the exact same as one finds in a zygote; 0.

        “That is false. There never is a moment in human reproduction where non-life turns into life, every element in the reproductive cycle IS “human life”.”

        I never disagreed. There is a moment where two distinct human lives create a new distinct human life. This new distinct human life can be identified by its genetic uniqueness, and as a result of this distinctness possesses the value and personhood inherent in all human beings, but there is no reason to say we are fully defined or explained by our genes. Insisting on assigning value or personhood on unrelated factors such as memory leads to its own absurd and immoral conclusions, such as the loss of memory logically leading to a lower value as a person. (As to your example, I don’t see anything absurd about maintaining that in the case of monozygotic twins, what is at one point one person becomes 2 people the moment it splits into 2 distinct organisms).

      • Yet none of those things are “actually” in existence if consciousness is not present

        Do you think that all memories that you are not recollecting right now at this very moment do therefore not actually exist? Do you think that when you fall into a dreamless sleep, all your beliefs, desires, fears, hopes etc.pp. cease existing and are recreated ex nihilo (from where?) when you awake?

        The actual amount of consciousness, feeling or memory (which is required under your position to identify value and personhood) that could be pointed to is the exact same as one finds in a zygote; 0.

        And again, that would logically mean that all memories that you are not remembering right now do not exist at all and are rather created ex nihilo at the moment you do remember them. But that is just false, memories do not come out of nothing – their substrate is still there even when you are not currently thinking about them.

        I never disagreed. There is a moment where two distinct human lives create a new distinct human life. This new distinct human life can be identified by its genetic uniqueness, and as a result of this distinctness possesses the value and personhood inherent in all human beings, but there is no reason to say we are fully defined or explained by our genes

        But then you are just contradicting yourself. Because what you say boils down to “at moment t in human development, the developing human is not a fully human person, at t+1second however, it “possesses the value and personhood inherent in all human beings” because it is now genetically unique, but I am not saying that human personhood can be reduced to genetics”. This is logically self-refuting, genetics is the ONLY difference you can point to, yet you still want to maintain that you are not reducing personhood to genetics, this cannot be – because you have offered nothing but genetics.

  2. Lotharson,

    I agree that violence should never be used in any way.
    But I cannot agree with St Paul’s ideas on authority.
    A better passage perhaps would be the Ten Commandments –
    Thou shalt not kill.
    The religious right are so strict about the Ten Commandments
    and yet they break them themselves when it suits them.
    It just shows what hypocrites they are!

  3. 2) does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of abortionists I know are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and that killing them is as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

    It goes without saying I strongly disagree with that but I don’t view them as moral monsters at all. Most abortion physicians act in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that “If you were blind, you would have no sin“.

    How about the Nazis in concentration camps who thought they were just managing a rat infestation? Lothar, I fail to see how those Nazis are any more culpable than the abortionist you mention, here. Perhaps you can tell me a crucial difference?

    Following is a sobering passage:

    And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. (Ezek 9:4-6)

    Let’s be very specific, here. Those who are have no sad emotions about the terribleness in Jerusalem are left unmarked, ready for execution. Without emotions, without a sense of ‘the good’—or at least without versions of these that is in any way human—is the proposed execution so terrible? Especially if there is an afterlife to clean up messes?

    I anticipate horrible offense being taken at what I have just said. I would like to know, for each person who takes such horrible offense, what the most terrible evil you have encountered, first-person. The reason I ask this is that I am willing to bet that the evil in Jerusalem may well surpass even the Holocaust. At some point, I wonder if there really is no solution to eliminating the perpetual evil committed by such people, other than fighting them to the death.

    Now, it seems clear to me that in the case of the abortionists, there are ways other than terror. And I’m not even sure the Christian is ever called to terror; I get the sense that the preferred method is for any and all Christians to be slaughtered, so that perhaps people will see just what kind of people they are murdering and what kind of people they are keeping alive. Several people only realized after Jesus’ murder that he did not deserve execution.

    • The reason I ask this is that I am willing to bet that the evil in Jerusalem may well surpass even the Holocaust. At some point, I wonder if there really is no solution to eliminating the perpetual evil committed by such people, other than fighting them to the death.

      Erm, you do know that the germans were not actually completely exterminated
      by the allied forces (although they could have easily done just that with nukes and / or anthrax) and that we pretty much stopped murdering jews? We also
      didn´t completely wipe out the japanese people and they seem to be a remarkably peaceful society today compared to virtually all others on this planet. Do you honestly have to wonder if genocide might not have been the better solution?

      • Neither were the nations Israel was to “utterly destroy” actually utterly destroyed. Some think that was war rhetoric. I haven’t researched the matter enough to say much with any confidence. What that Ezek 9:4-6 passage described was annihilation of the spirit of “I don’t give a fuck about other people’s suffering”. This didn’t have to include a single death. But if you want to call annihilation of such spirits ‘genocide’, then you’ve diluted a powerful term.

        The above being said, I do wonder whether one can just isolate the kinds of people who say “I don’t give a fuck about other people’s suffering”. We do seem to have more resources to deal with them. I hear Europe’s rehabilitation system is much better than the US’s. We seem to have incredibly more resources than folks had back in OT times.

        • Ezechiel also taught that children never have to be punished for the sins of the parents which is a moral progress compared to Joshua.

          Did he contradict himself here? I don’t really know.

          • There is a difference between being guilty for someone else’s sins and suffering due to their sins. This is the critical realization of Job: not all suffering is due to oneself being guilty.

  4. Abortion is legal whether we like it or not. To kill a person for doing a legal procedure is not justifiable, IMHO. We need to change hearts and minds in society, so that children in the womb are protected. Taking seriously the issues women face, and doing our best to address those, would certainly result in a decrease in abortions. IMHO

    • Precisely Sheila!

      We need to change our hearts so that Love, Commitment and Sex will become inseparable.
      And we need to strive for a society where disabled people will be loved unconditionally instead of despised because they’re a hurdle for our hedonism.

      “Unattainable dreams are the best kind”, right? 😉

    • Abortion is legal whether we like it or not. To kill a person for doing a legal procedure is not justifiable, IMHO.

      Do human laws determine what is ‘justifiable’, or do God’s laws determine what is ‘justifiable’? Most people would admit that human laws can only ever be an approximation of the Platonic Form of Justice. In a country where it was lawful to murder slaves but against the law to murder freemen, would you really say that it is not ‘justifiable’ to stop a murderer of slaves with lethal force?

      • I was speaking about abortion. Not getting drawn into the slavery thing. Also, the invocation of God is based on the personal interpretation of what God supposedly endorses. Mankind is fallible, and so are his interpretations. IMHO.

        • That’s fine that you don’t want to get drawn into the slavery thing, but if you think a slave is more of a person than a fetus, that would explain some things. If you think a fetus is just as much a person as a slave, then ostensibly you would be against defending slaves from a serial killer, and I find that disturbing.

          I agree that mankind is fallible. Much of that fallibility starts, it seems, at not caring if you’re hurting other human beings. That ‘not caring’ can take the form of “denying they *are* human beings”.

          • Please take a step back, and notice that my only use of slavery was to talk about laws that prohibit killing of freemen and not slaves. I am not in any way talking about whether the Bible condemns slavery, or any of that. I am merely using a realistic situation—there have indeed been nations with no laws against killing slaves—to investigate your idea that it is wrong to murder a murderer who is lawfully murdering. Now, of course, you may question whether abortion is murder. But we must be *very* careful to distinguish between (a) man’s imperfect justice; (b) God’s perfect justice. You either don’t seem to want to do this, or you want to say that there’s no good way to do this. My using slavery was merely a way to investigate the issue with born human beings instead of unborn human beings.

          • If you change ‘decide’ → ‘discover’, yes. Do you believe the State is always less fallible than the citizens who compose the State?

          • Well, discover is to notice, ferret out, gain a new way of seeing things due to new evidence. Decide is to come to a conclusion, usually a controversy, which is put to rest after persuasion based on evidence. They are quite close. So, those who use the word of God to decide to kill an abortion provider have looked at what the Bible says in a particular way. It is their own ferreting out of information which leads to the action. Others may look at the Bible and decide quite the opposite. As to the State, we are ruled by the Constitution. Our leaders may not always follow it the way they ought to, but the Constitution was ratified based on the votes of citizens of each state which voted for ratification. The State is comprised of the people. If the voting citizens wish to change a law, the State can be petitioned to make the change. All of this is moot, however, to the morality of murdering a person who is doing a legal procedure. It is wrong. If one believes that a preborn fetus is a fully human person with full Constitutional rights, then “Roe v Wade” must be challenged and overturned. I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. Even if it were, abortionists would face fines, jail time, and loss of license. They would not be executed. Even the Bible places more of a value on the born than the unborn.

          • There you have it: your whole argument is predicated upon the born having more value than the unborn. Without that, your argument falls to pieces, and either it is wrong to kill the slave-murderer, or it is not *any more wrong* to kill the fetus-murderer. The only remaining item is that we hope there are non-lethal ways to stop *both* the slave-murderer and the fetus-murderer.

            Heinous actions are always hidden behind terminology. You have ‘abortionist’ instead of ‘fetus-murderer’. Ahh, that’s better, now I don’t think so much about whether the fetus is a human. You have ‘euthanasia’ instead of ‘suicide’. Euphemisms are great at isolating us from reality. It’s not murder, it’s “cleansing”. You know, like you clean your sink. Everyone wants a clean sink, right?

          • “Exodus 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.” A fine for the unborn, but the death penalty for those who kill people already born.

            Then, there is the test of the bitter waters in Numbers 5, supposedly ordered by God, in which a woman is suspected of carrying another man’s child and is given an abortifacient to drink. If the husband is right, she loses her baby; if not, the baby lives.

            Tell me that I am wrong to say the Bible puts more emphasis on the born than the unborn.

            Then, let’s see what else God did: killed the firstborn of all the Egyptians, and killed David and Bathsheba’s firstborn. I just don’t get the cut and paste mentality of fundamentalists. I don’t like abortion. I don’t know anyone personally who cheers about needing one. It is a sober, traumatic, and often heart breaking experience. (At least, for the people I know who had an abortion). We all know that a potential life will end. I, however, have always been taught that the life of the mother is more important than the life of the baby.

          • I don’t subscribe to Biblical inerrancy. But those who shoot and kill abortion workers usually do. That was the underpinning for my comment. You can’t cut and paste the Bible to justify killing abortion workers. But I sure look forward to your post! I hope you write it soon. I’d love to hear how such a view of the Bible undermines the pro-life position. By the way, I am opposed to the death penalty. I hope your post includes that aspect of pro-life.

          • I’ll be focused on the Religious Right limitation of the concept to babies. But don’t worry, this should be palatable enough 😉

          • Ok, that’s your interpretation, and it might be correct: YHWH considered the man-who-struck-the-woman’s life as more important than the baby’s, and wills the abortion of [verified by magic] illegitimate children, if the father suspects adultery and does not want an illegitimate child.

            So some people are more important than others, or pre-birth, you’re not a ‘person’ yet. sheila, why didn’t you just say this?

          • I think I did. The unborn is a developing human. I don’t think that, prior to implantation, there even is a pregnancy. A fertilized egg or blastocyst does not have full rights. Sorry if this upsets you. I don’t support “late term” abortions. A woman has plenty of time early on to make her choice, unless the pregnancy is threatening her life.

          • Oh, my emotions aren’t engaged at all here, except a bit of frustration that you focus too much on what the State thinks is legal over what God thinks is Just. So I’m not upset. I find that these issues are better approached dispassionately, which means that the fetus gets no nice fuzzy feelings *and neither does the mother*.

            May I ask whether you support any other ending of homo sapiens life, like euthanasia?

          • May I ask whether you support any other ending of homo sapiens life, like euthanasia?

            I´m pretty sure you actually mean “assisted suicide” here (“euthanasia” means something different).

          • I’ll write a post arguing it is IRRATIONAL that the Western world wants to allow patients to receive a deadly drug from their doctors while forbidding them to ask for a euphorizing or psychedelic substance.

            Frankly speaking, I find it better to spend one’s last days under blissful feelings spawned by LSD, Cocain, heroin or even huge doses of Cannabis (and dying naturally) rather than by getting a lethal drug.

            Now you might reply that there is no guarantee that the trip will be pleasant. And this is why I find that this whole war on drug is so extraordinarily stupid. If we had started 50 years ago to freely research how to employ these drugs for helping terminally-ill patients, we would have found ways to give them a last nice experience.

          • Cool, so I didn’t upset you. Euthanasia is a broad term. Can you define it a bit more clearly? Do you mean assisted suicide or the killing off of a life which has become unable to sustain life on its own (ie “pulling the plug/removing feeding tube”) and is only suffering?

          • All of the above; feel free to separate out into categories however you’d like. Do please include super-sad people who’ve been super-sad for several years and tried everything they could to stop being sad.

    • To kill a person for doing a legal procedure is not justifiable, IMHO.

      In Nazi Germany, it was perfectly legal for Hitler to round up and slaughter the Jews. So, it is wrong to kill them, if necessary, in order to stop them?

      • Your argument is a straw one. The Jews were already born. And, we are not Nazi Germany. I believe the best way to end abortion is through a persistent presentation of the facts of human development, which would more likely persuade hearts and minds than comparing abortionists to Nazis. Rhetoric is everything. And, killing an adult engaged in lawful activity is murder. Now, you may believe that the unborn child is fully human even during those gestational periods of time when it is a cluster of cells, or a burgeoning but underdeveloped human. That’s fine. But the law says otherwise, and so the law would have to be changed. Expending energy on that would be a very good use of your time. Of course, I expect to be barraged by a multi-paragraph reply. Tomes are not generally useful. Nor are hypotheticals.

        • Your argument is a straw one. The Jews were already born.

          So what? The unborn are still people. It’s a perfectly relevant argument.

          And, we are not Nazi Germany.

          I never said we were.

          And, killing an adult engaged in lawful activity is murder.

          Redefining words isn’t helping you here, Sheila. You don’t even believe this. If the state passed a law making it legal to kill all Christians, and you killed a potential aggressor in self-defense, according to you that is murder. I don’t think you believe that, Sheila.

          Now, you may believe that the unborn child is fully human even during those gestational periods of time when it is a cluster of cells, or a burgeoning but underdeveloped human.

          That’s probably because it’s a unique individual that will eventually become a toddler, a teenager, and an adult.

          Your argument is ludicrous. By your logic there’s no good reason not to kill toddlers. They’re not fully developed, right?

          But the law says otherwise, and so the law would have to be changed.

          So, you support the end of legalized abortion? I’m pretty sure you don’t, Sheila.

          Of course, I expect to be barraged by a multi-paragraph reply. Tomes are not generally useful. Nor are hypotheticals.

          What you call “tomes” and “hypotheticals” are things other people call “responses to your points” and “counterpoints” and “arguments. This is apparently something too difficult for you to grasp, though.

      • sheila0405:

        Your argument is a straw one. The Jews were already born.

        In other words, you were bullshitting when you said “To kill a person for doing a legal procedure is not justifiable, IMHO.” It wasn’t a straw argument, as evident by the fact that it destroyed your legality red herring, and caused you to show where you really stand.

        The reality is that you, like Lothar with his “Precisely!”, don’t consider the unborn to be people, so you think that killing them is no big deal, unlike killing Jews.

        Your blather about “changing hearts and minds” is also obvious bullshit. You and Lothar have no intention of changing any hearts and minds against abortion, because you have justified it in YOUR hearts and minds. That’s just a disclaimer you give, a pathetic fig leaf, to allow you to pretend to be Christians while actually being pro-infanticide in every material way.

        So spare us your “hearts and minds” bullshit and your “not a huge fan of the abortion lobby” bullshit. The dishonest attempt to square the circle is transparent and will cut no ice with any honest man, and it’s God you’ve got to worry about, not us. Good luck fooling Him. It would be less nauseating if you liberal “Christian” types would at least be forthright and honest about where you stand instead of compounding your service to hell with these unctuous, mealy-mouthed, two-faced attempts to insult everyone’s intelligence.

        • Hello The Deuce.

          “Your blather about “changing hearts and minds” is also obvious bullshit. You and Lothar have no intention of changing any hearts and minds against abortion, because you have justified it in YOUR hearts and minds. That’s just a disclaimer you give, a pathetic fig leaf, to allow you to pretend to be Christians while actually being pro-infanticide in every material way.”

          It seems to me you’re making unjustified assumptions against us.
          I really think that abortion SHOULD be reserved to cases where the health of the mother is seriously threatened:
          https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/abortion-and-the-pride-of-the-western-world/

          In Continental Europe nobody would call me “pro-choice” with such a position. On the contrary, my particular view often gets described as being terribly oppressive for females.

          “So spare us your “hearts and minds” bullshit and your “not a huge fan of the abortion lobby” bullshit. The dishonest attempt to square the circle is transparent and will cut no ice with any honest man, and it’s God you’ve got to worry about, not us. Good luck fooling Him. It would be less nauseating if you liberal “Christian” types would at least be forthright and honest about where you stand instead of compounding your service to hell with these unctuous, mealy-mouthed, two-faced attempts to insult everyone’s intelligence.”

          With all due respect, you’re sounding really hateful while expressing yourself in this manner.
          If you’re a sincere follower of Jesus, you should clearly know better.

          Are we not commanded to love our enemies as ourselves?

          Shalom.

          • With all due respect, you’re sounding really hateful while expressing yourself in this manner.

            Marc, do you remember what is said in the NT about those with itchy ears? Yeah, The Deuce ain’t perfect. Are you? If so, why are your weaknesses any less bad than his weaknesses, if indeed they are weaknesses? Niceness is not, in and of itself, a positive quality! Satan is said to masquerade as an angel of light!! And Marc, I think you ought to man up and explicate precisely what you meant, by:

            I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby

            Why not use stronger language than that? I’m not a ‘huge fan’ of baseball.

          • “Marc, do you remember what is said in the NT about those with itchy ears? Yeah, The Deuce ain’t perfect. Are you? If so, why are your weaknesses any less bad than his weaknesses, if indeed they are weaknesses?”

            Did I say that my sins are less grave than his? I can’t remember. I just admonished him to change his behavior in that respect.
            Does admonishing another person means one feels superior to him or her?

            “Why not use stronger language than that? I’m not a ‘huge fan’ of baseball.”

            At times, I’m a huge fan of understatements as well 😉

          • Did I say that my sins are less grave than his? I can’t remember. I just admonished him to change his behavior in that respect.

            You indicated that his behavior was unacceptable until it adhered to your standards. You did not admit that perhaps your behavior has unacceptable bits which hinder communication. And so, with respect to what matters for the current conversation, you indeed appear to consider yourself as sufficiently sinless, while the person you are criticizing is exhibiting fatal sins.

            “Why not use stronger language than that? I’m not a ‘huge fan’ of baseball.”

            At times, I’m a huge fan of understatements as well 😉

            And it is never misleading to understate? I should think you would know how important proper emphasis is on these kinds of issues. One way people attempt to deemphasize the importance of a thing is to understate. It really seemed like you were doing precisely this.

          • “You indicated that his behavior was unacceptable until it adhered to your standards.”

            These are standard HUMAN rules of decency and not specifically mine.

            “. You did not admit that perhaps your behavior has unacceptable bits which hinder communication. ”

            I repeatedly confessed my mistakes and apologized for this, going so far as recognizing my “idiocy” in the email.

            Sorry but this sentence of yours is completely wrong.
            How you can think I “did not admit” my flaws is truly beyond me.

            “And so, with respect to what matters for the current conversation, you indeed appear to consider yourself as sufficiently sinless, while the person you are criticizing is exhibiting fatal sins.”

            In the whole conversation I never dehumanized my opponent and called him wicked. I have just harshly criticized IDEAS but not the person holding them (and I am sincerely sorry if I raised this impression through an unfortunate choice of words).

            I certainly think that a nice person who is terribly misguided can kill an abortionist in good conscience.

            On the contrary, The Deuce accused Sheila and I of wickedness which is clearly a personal attack.

            Using his very reasoning, I could do the same and conclude he’s a self-righteous bigot.
            But I won’t and can’t BECAUSE I know almost nothing about him and it would be utterly unjust to judge his overall moral character, however tempting it might be.

          • These are standard HUMAN rules of decency and not specifically mine.

            Yeah, and he might think that saying you are “not a fan of abortion” is failing to show HUMAN rules of decency to HUMANS—just unborn HUMANS. Marc, you’re not treating unborn humans as worthy of “HUMAN rules of decency”. You just aren’t.

            In the whole conversation I never dehumanized my opponent

            No, you dehumanized unborn HUMANS. Nobody would dare say “I’m really not a huge fan of the Nazis”, and yet you said “I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby”.

            I certainly think that a nice person who is terribly misguided can kill an abortionist in good conscience.

            You are idolizing niceness. I suggest you care much more about truth and love, and much less about niceness. Niceness is a neutral quality. Satan can be just as nice as Jesus. Satan cannot love like Jesus, and he cannot care about the truth like Jesus. What Satan can do is foster false conceptions of love and truth, which he does all the time. There’s no false conception of niceness; it’s neutral.

          • Okay under “nice” I meant something like “good and loving”. Sorry for my poor English.

            I find planed abortion for avoiding a hindrance in one’s life truly horrific and atrocious.

            If a female friend of mine were willing to abort (in WHATEVER semester), I would certainly argue with her and explain why, if one values life after birth, one should also value it before.
            I’d go on explaining why ADOPTION is far better than abortion and advise her places where people can help her bear the pain of an unwanted pregnancy.

            You know, it’s truly amusing. Due to this very fact. I got bullied by angry liberals and feminists who cannot bear the idea that it might not be moral for a woman to do whatever she wants “with her body”.
            And I do clearly state my pro-life convictions, even if it makes me very unpopular in some circles.

            It should be clear I cannot be described as being “pro-choice” by any stretch of imagination.
            If you told that to anyone in Continental Europe knowing my position, he or she would really burst out laughing.

            And there are quite a few progressive Christians who hold similar views. The Protestant female Bishop of the German Land of Saxony once said that the systematic abortion of mentally-handicapped children is a crime against humanity and a step back towards Nazism.

          • I find planed abortion for avoiding a hindrance in one’s life truly horrific and atrocious.

            If this is the case, then once again, why did you say only “I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby”? I mean, “not a fan” ≠ “truly horrific and atrocious”. Those two phrases are so far apart that to think that you uttered both is very confusing. Once again, why did you say only “I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby”, instead of something much stronger? Do you agree that it would be very suspicious for someone to say “I’m really not a huge fan of the Nazis”?

            You know, it’s truly amusing. Due to this very fact. I got bullied by angry liberals and feminists who cannot bear the idea that it might not be moral for a woman to do whatever she wants “with her body”.
            And I do clearly state my pro-life convictions, even if it makes me very unpopular in some circles.

            Oh, of course. People are only tolerant of those they like, regardless of what they claim about ‘tolerance’. Well, perhaps with the exception of Jesus and those who are truly following him. Jesus seemed to interact with people with different positions very differently than almost anyone else I know—indeed, I cannot think of a single other person who is really like Jesus in how he interacted with the vast number of different kinds of people in different stations of life.

            Jesus was most harsh with those who claimed to be most holy. Throughout history, that has gotten one murdered, excommunicated, etc. It’s funny that Jesus got murdered for speaking truth to power, but that seems like how our God works. He both (a) speaks truth to power; (b) lets himself get murdered as a result.

            If you told that to anyone in Continental Europe knowing my position, he or she would really burst out laughing.

            Yep, plenty of folks mocked Jesus while he was on the cross.

  5. Also. @labreuer:
    Do you believe that there is one discrete moment t in human development where the developing human becomes the moral equivalent of a fully human person, in the sense that at moment t it was not a fully human person but at t+1 second, it was one? If so, which moment is it? (and whichever moment you pick, why not the step in human development that precedes it? It´s all “homo sapiens life”, there never is a transition from non-life to life in human reproduction) And how do you justify imposing such a binary switch on a continuum in the first place?

    • First, we should acknowledge that there are possible fatal errors all through the process. Let me list a few off the top of my head:

      1. failure to ovulate
      2. unviable sperm
      3. failure to embed
      4. improper embedding (e.g. ectopic pregnancy)
      5. miscarriage
      6. death soon after birth

      A question arises: well if God lets all that happen, why can’t we emulate him somewhere along the chain? You see this show up with Christians talking about what birth control is ok. If you have life at #3 (it assumes fertilized egg), then all the frozen fertilized eggs produced by in vitro fertilization are problematic. The error in this reasoning is supposing that God wants any of the above to happen. We are told that all of creation is corrupted; #1-#6 are instances of that, all of them. Who is to say that his desired route was for women to be born with say 2-10 eggs, a way to consciously release them, and an extremely robust process to make sure they make it to birth?

      If we’re talking about inherent rights, then you don’t generally get them in fractional quantities, and they generally aren’t defined by a “convenient transition” (like birth). At least, I’m not aware of any. I think rights need to apply to coma patients, including those who might be braindead, but we’re not sure. This makes it awfully difficult to pick something not-obviously-arbitrary about a born human that isn’t true of an unborn human. A properly embedded zygote (after #4) has potential to be a thinking, feeling being, just like a coma patient does. What meaningful division separates them? Having a brain? That doesn’t seem to matter; maybe the coma patient’s brain doesn’t work right now. Having a functional brainstem? But maybe the coma patient needs help, and maybe we’ll learn to artificially do more and more brainstem functions.

      This leads me to ask: what are we actually doing, here? Are we finding a way to decide who lives and who dies, such that we don’t feel too bad about it? For example, lots of people are still revolted by the idea of aborting if the sex is ‘incorrect’. Were we to just allow any abortion (up to say 3 months) whatsoever, then the more and more we can genetically test, the more and more we can do designer babies. C.S. Lewis foresaw this in The Abolition of Man. He foresaw a small cabal, maybe of 100-200 people, who would manage to engineer current and future humanity to their whims. Lewis was thinking more behavioral modification than genetic selection and engineering, but they’re not really that different, especially if you can do the behavioral modification so nobody (or few enough) feels hurt by it.

      After thinking for about ten minutes, I find it hard to argue for something other than “after ovulation”, but even that says that it’s A-OK to thwart the coming-to-life of eggs. We generally see stuff like the forced infertility in SG1’s 2010 episode to be a great evil. Is it really just evil because it violates the rights of the grown humans?

      I feel odd objecting on the basis that making everyone a Chrome (Almost Human) is bad, approximately on the basis Lewis called it bad. This seems tantamount to arguing for a “right order” conception of justice, which doesn’t have any inherent rights at all. I am somewhat versed in the portrayal of genetic enhancement in the Star Trek universe, including the fact that Julian Bashir is a Chrome.

      This is the best I’ve got, so far. I’ve been chewing on the abortion issue for quite a few years, now. I’ve not consulted scholars on it, so what I’ve said above is the most thorough treatment I’ve ever come across. I wonder what you’ll do with it.

      FYI I generally don’t look for comments not in reply to mine. Too much noise, here and on Disqus.

      • 1. So you pick ovulation. Very unusual choice but what the hell. So why not an earlier phase in human reproduction? Why not the follicular phase or something even earlier? Why not go back all the way to meiosis and close the circle?
        2. “If we’re talking about inherent rights, then you don’t generally get them in fractional quantities” – why? And you didn´t answer my question, how do you justify the claim that this:

        – is not a fully human person (or its moral equivalent)
        but this:

        – is indeed a fully human person (or its moral equivalent), I chose the pictures assuming that you picked conception (which people usually do) but they get the point across just as well, just imagine that the second picture would be an immature egg instead of a fertilized one. I can see ways to define “personhood” in a way that this makes sense, but it would reduce personhood to a fully reversible biochemical triviality (in other words, the concept of a “person” would become completely and utterly irrelevant for everyone but biology nerds and scientists). How would you do it?
        3. “and they generally aren’t defined by a “convenient transition” (like birth)” – yup, or like conception or like implantation or like ovulation. Its a continuum, there is no objective way to draw the line (and there is also no need to draw ONE line at all, most countries do not allow late term abortions at all or only in very special circumstances, so the developing human in the third trimester has more legal protection than a fertilized human egg, but less legal protection (and by implication less moral worth) than a human person).
        4. Do you realize the consequences of legally and morally acknowledging a mature human egg as a fully human person (or its moral equivalent)? It would mean that having as much unprotected sex as possible would become a moral duty for girls. Including very young girls, the first ovulation happens before the first menstruation, so to be on the safe side, girls as young as 11 should have unprotected sex as often as possible (and they should try to enjoy it – an orgasm increases the chances of conception). By doing this, girls could save 3-5 fully human persons (or their moral equivalent) before they reach the current age of consent. Sounds pretty absurd, but it would be absolutely true – assuming that a mature egg indeed is a fully human person (or its moral equivalent).

        • Before we go through another round of me answering your questions, how about you answer your question to me, plus:

          A. Respond to my bit about “2-10 eggs”.
          B. Tell me if aborting based on sex or other non-health characteristic is fine.
          C. Comment on the engineering of the future race via selective abortions.

          In my answer to you, I did the best I could to explain my lines of reasoning. I would like you to do the same in your response, to the best of your ability. Let’s make this an equal dialog, and not another Andy-Luke interrogation. Those get tiring, although I can still learn from them and am therefore still thankful. They are very draining.

        • 1. Because I have yet to formulate a consistent, coherent, non-arbitrary way to think about the matter. I am being tempted by the following:

          Jakeithus: It seems pretty straightforward to me; if you take myself or just about any person on this planet, if you go backward in time, the first moment you can point to anything as “me” or as “mine” is the moment of conception. Before that, you have my mother’s egg and my father’s sperm, neither of which can be pointed to as an example of me, or as a human life at all.

          2. Oh I see, trap sprung. At the moment, I don’t have any better answer for this than whatever transition point you choose. And if you pick a continuous transition or a multi-step one instead of binary, I’d love to see what laws you suggest be adopted to make it real instead of imagined for self-justification.

          3. I can see nothing but evil coming from assuming that e.g. one being with human DNA is worth 3/5 of another. But perhaps you have a way such that evil does not arise. I’m not sure I have the patience to tease it out, but you may give it a shot if you wish.

          4. This is why I said the 2-10 figure. If your reasoning goes like this: “People should be forced to adhere to perfect moral rules, right away.”, then you will utterly fail to have a maximally good effect on countries like India, re: rape. When a system is really broken, often you’ve gotta repair it bit by bit. The fixed version may even be laughably improbable from the perspective of many, while it is still very broken. For example, many ‘give up’ on sufficiently mentally ill people, on this very basis. Just lock them up away and out of site, and provide some sort of therapy—behind bars and out of my sight.

      • A. Respond to my bit about “2-10 eggs”.
        B. Tell me if aborting based on sex or other non-health characteristic is fine.
        C. Comment on the engineering of the future race via selective abortions.

        A: Unless God would decide to chime in and explain that he a) indeed did desire that and b) couldn´t actualize such a scenario because [insert a good reason here], I don´t know how to reply to that. Well… actually even if the big guy himself would do that, I´d still fail to see the relevance.
        B: Not fine
        C: Not cool either.

        In my answer to you, I did the best I could to explain my lines of reasoning. I would like you to do the same in your response, to the best of your ability.

        What I think is unfortunately mostly missing from moral considerations in this respect is that we are talking about a form of the sorites paradox:
        1. There never is a transition non-life => life in human reproduction, it´s a continuous cycle and every element at every step is “homo sapiens life”.
        2. The attributes that are commonly associated with “personhood” / “being human” do not emerge simultaneously in human development, some emerge very early in development and some very late.
        3. Insisting on drawing *ONE* *absolute* line in this continuum of human reproduction so that everything after the line is a “fully human person” (or its moral equivalent) while everything before it is not that, inevitably leads to moral absurdities and suffering – insisting that a developing human has no moral worth whatsoever before it has left the birth canal, while it has to be considered a fully human person after leaving the birth canal, is absurd. And insisting that this:

        – is not a fully human person (or its moral equivalent)
        but this:

        – is just that, is also completely absurd. I could go into more details here regarding what absurdities this leads to (I already mentioned some of the absurdities that your choice of ovulation as the magic moment would lead to), but I think you see where I´m aiming at (I´ve also written a blog post about this a while ago: http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2012/11/14/life-starts-at-conception-but-what-about-personhood/ ).

        I don´t consider things like emergency contraception to be morally problematic at all (well, in the sense that they make irresponsible sex to easy, I do find them problematic, but not in the sense that they potentially prevent implantation of a fertilized human egg). Late term abortions I do find to be morally problematic, but I´d always prioritize the life and health of the mother and think that an abortion should always be legal if the mother is at risk (for various reasons, but that would be an essay in itself).
        Anything else you´d like to know?

        • A. Okay. I know you don’t like hypotheticals that don’t fit into your binary way of thinking (I’m referring to your frequent: “I have no idea what you’re talking about”). So I’ll give up on this one.

          B. & C. Ok, so how would you go about preventing these from happening? Do you think they can be legislated? And whose rights are being violated by doing them?

          irresponsible sex

          Whose rights are being violated by irresponsible sex? Do you mean something like 1/1000th of a right to life, when haploid → diploid, or something like that?

          Late term abortions I do find to be morally problematic

          Suppose there was a way to end the late term fetus’ life in less than a nanosecond. Then would it be morally problematic? Why? I don’t see how the fetus could fear its life being ended. It’s not clear that they look forward to being born. Indeed, many people in America would apparently rather be inside the womb than outside, given how much of their [civil] power they give to others, instead of exercising it like a proper democratic citizen.

          Anything else you´d like to know?

          How you would make illegal the re-engineering of the human race, The Abolition of Man-style, would be fascinating. B. & C. get at that, though, and other things short of making that illegal, supposing that this is even possible. Actually, one other question: are you a Stargate SG1 fan? The episode 2010 is somewhat relevant.

      • @labreuer:
        Re 1. Alright, then you now have one of the most popular choices – conception, but it comes with almost the same conceptual problems as ovulation does.
        Re 2. Wasn´t a trap. Personally, I am convinced that designated any point on the continuum as THE transition point can only be more or less arbitrary. A “multi-step” solution is already the reality practically everywhere where abortion is not *completely* outlawed under any circumstances btw, unfertilized human eggs have some legal protection (I, as a biologist, could not just offer some woman money to donate eggs and do with these eggs as I please), fertilized human eggs have more legal protection than that, and “late term” abortions (not all legislations agree on what “late term” means exactly) are completely illegal in some places and only legal when the life or health of the mother is at risk in others.
        Re 3. Plenty of evil can come from this, but the only way to completely avoid even the *possibility* of such evil is to designate NO “transition point” at all and rather consider EVERY element in the human reproductive cycle, including those that come before conception and those before ovulation, to be a “fully human person”. That however would cause plenty of evil by itself (consider the implications of doing that, my example above re the moral duty of girls would be just one, and it wouldn´t even be the most absurd one).
        Re 4. You say “This is why I said the 2-10 figure. If your reasoning goes like this: “People should be forced to adhere to perfect moral rules, right away.”” – but this was not the problem I pointed out, the problem I pointed out is that the “adhering to the perfect moral rules” would in reality be something that all of us agree on to be completely absurd. Counterfactuals such as “what if human reproductive biology would magically completely change” are about as helpful for moral discourse as “what if human physiology would magically change in such a way that toxic radiation becomes healthy, wouldn´t that mean that we should build as many atomic power plants as possible?”

        • (I, as a biologist, could not just offer some woman money to donate eggs and do with these eggs as I please)

          Why, though? Is this because the eggs have rights, or the woman has rights and it would be too easy to take advantage of women if they were willing to sell their eggs? The matter of whose rights are being violated is paramount.

          the only way to completely avoid even the *possibility* of such evil is to designate NO “transition point” at all and rather consider EVERY element in the human reproductive cycle

          On what basis do you hold this position? For example, are there any scholars who have thought about this issue much more than you or I or anyone participating in this thread, whom you have read? If it’s just your own thoughts then cool, but I know that scholars have many more incentives to rigorously and thoroughly explore ideas than random people on the internet. I myself have not consulted scholars (or experts) on this issue. I would if I were to pick up this torch and run with it, but I’m putting most of my energy in other areas for now, areas that many fewer people think are important.

          the problem I pointed out is that the “adhering to the perfect moral rules” would in reality be something that all of us agree on to be completely absurd.

          But I disagree (well it might not be disagreement; your response will tell), in the sense that I think we should forever be trying to find better and better moral rules, such that we are approaching objective moral truth like science is approaching objective empirical truth. This ‘objective’ has to be teleologically defined, but science is as well so that’s not really a problem.

          It is absolutely terrible when people are unwilling to test their ideas out to their logical conclusions. But those logical conclusions are like the “point at infinity”, toward which we are ostensibly aiming. All sorts of evil is allowed when people shy away from the logical conclusions of their actions. Why? Because inevitably, some portion of the population gets unfairly screwed, in some way.

      • A. Okay. I know you don’t like hypotheticals that don’t fit into your binary way of thinking (I’m referring to your frequent: “I have no idea what you’re talking about”).

        I like hypotheticals, but not at all hypotheticals are reasonable to discuss, I gave an example for a stupid hypothetical in my last response:
        “what if human physiology would magically change in such a way that toxic radiation becomes healthy, wouldn´t that mean that we should build as many atomic power plants as possible?”
        – and I see your hypothetical as being not an iota more helpful, you certainly didn´t try to explain why it would be useful or reasonable to consider it.

        B. & C. Ok, so how would you go about preventing these from happening? Do you think they can be legislated?

        Of course they can be legislated, but then you end up with the same problems as you have with legislation on things like plastic surgery, assisted suicide, stem cell research and so on and so forth – that the legislation can potentially be sidestepped by those that can afford to go to a country where the legislation is different. It is extremely problematic either way and this would be a whole new discussion in itself.

        And whose rights are being violated by doing them?

        That is a very interesting question, and I have no answer.

        Whose rights are being violated by irresponsible sex?

        In principle, no one´s (assuming informed consent of course). You also don´t violate anyone´s rights if you chain smoke in your appartment, but that you don´t violate anyone´s rights doesn´t mean that it is a good idea to do it or that it wouldn´t be a good idea to run campaigns against smoking.

        Do you mean something like 1/1000th of a right to life, when haploid → diploid, or something like that?

        ?? What are you referring to?

        Suppose there was a way to end the late term fetus’ life in less than a nanosecond. Then would it be morally problematic?

        Yup.

        Why? I don’t see how the fetus could fear its life being ended. It’s not clear that they look forward to being born. Indeed, many people in America would apparently rather be inside the womb than outside, given how much of their [civil] power they give to others, instead of exercising it like a proper democratic citizen.

        Srsly?

        How you would make illegal the re-engineering of the human race,

        You´d have to be more specific about what exactly “re-engineering” is supposed to mean. Deleterious mutations are fixed at an alarming rate in the human population, for various reasons, hyper-simplified version: you can still easily live a long life and reproduce even if your immune system (for example) is *severely* impaired (to a degree that you wouldn´t survive for more than a few days without modern medicine) and modern technology (esp. medicine) effectively removes most selective constraints on many traits – and it is well possible that things like gene therapy to correct deleterious mutations become unavoidable in a not-too-distant future. That would certainly be “re-engineering” in some sense, but I guess you rather mean something like designer babies, right?

        Actually, one other question: are you a Stargate SG1 fan?

        Nope, the only sci-fi series I watched were TNG and Firefly.

      • Why, though? Is this because the eggs have rights, or the woman has rights and it would be too easy to take advantage of women if they were willing to sell their eggs?

        Are you asking for my own opinion for why this is the right thing to do or for what the background of the respective legislation is? If it is the latter, then the answer would be both, if it is the former, than the answer would be “because it would cause exploitation of poor women”.

        On what basis do you hold this position?

        Simple logic, the “potential for evil” comes from making a decision which human life is worth protecting and which isn´t. And the only way to avoid this potential completely is to simply not make such a decision in the first place – and that means that *everything* in the entire human reproductive cycle must be considered a fully human person.

        For example, are there any scholars who have thought about this issue much more than you or I or anyone participating in this thread, whom you have read?

        Yup, and I guess you are more interested in perspectives that disagree with me than those that agree with it, the first reading recommendations that come to mind would be:
        http://bdfund.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wi_whitepaper_life_print.pdf
        https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUiecEZLQU9ubVphdU0/edit

        But I disagree (well it might not be disagreement; your response will tell), in the sense that I think we should forever be trying to find better and better moral rules, such that we are approaching objective moral truth like science is approaching objective empirical truth. This ‘objective’ has to be teleologically defined, but science is as well so that’s not really a problem.

        So what does that mean in practice for your suggestion that ovulation is the magic moment that makes all the difference and my response pointing out what that would logically entail?

  6. Dear Marc,

    First off, let me thank you for devoting a whole post to this subject. However, in light of the fact that you yourself, at the very beginning of your post, essentially insinuated that I was a “Christian Taliban”—a particularly egregious accusation given that I spent nine months of my life in military operations against the actual Taliban in Afghanistan—then I must start my reply to you with the following disclaimer: this response will not give your post any quarter. My reply to you will be brutally honest and utterly ruthless in exposing the absurdities, illogical, incoherence, and downright stupidity of many aspects of your post. My reply will, figuratively speaking, beat your post into a bloody pulp, leaving it a broken mess on the ground. So, let’s begin.

    You said:

    I’ve long laughed at people telling me that there are Christian Talibans in America who want to bring about a violent theocracy. Now I realize I no longer can. In what follows, I want to offer my thoughts on his argument.

    First off, I have already mentioned how your insinuation that I am something like a “Christian Taliban” is egregious, especially in light of my personal history. But what is even more disturbing, and which shows your lack of critical reflection, is your assumption about that I, and people like me, are a threat given that we apparently want to bring about a violent theocracy, In fact, if anything, I lean libertarian in my political affiliations. So right off the bat we start to see some tenuous and unwarranted assumptions on your part. Not a promising start for the rest of the post.

    You said:

    I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby and agree with RD that there is no rational criterion for distinguishing the killing of a “nearly born child” from one who just saw the light of day. I’m in very good company here, since the prominent bio-ethicist Peter Singer tells us that we should be allowed to annihilate disabled children until their 30th day.

    As a cheap aside, let me just point out that Peter Singer, the advocate of infanticide, could easily be classified as a “progressive.” So that is nice companion that progressives seem to keep.

    You said:

    Basically, RD’s reasoning can be summarized as follows:

    1) It is always permissible to kill someone who is about to consciously put an end to an innocent human life.

    2) Abortionists are consciously putting an end to many innocent human lives.

    3) Thus it is allowed to kill abortionists.

    Not really. My line of reasoning would actually be as follows:

    1 – In principle, it is permissible to use force, up to and included the use of deadly force, to stop someone from killing or seriously harming another innocent party, so long as 1) the force used is proportional to the threat, and 2) the force used is not excessive in comparison to the threat, and 3) the lowest amount of force is used first, with more force being used only if necessary.

    2 – Abortionists are killing or seriously harming another innocent party.

    3 – Thus, in principle, it is permissible to use force, up to and included the use of deadly force, to stop an abortionist from killing or seriously harming another innocent party, so long as 1) the force used is proportional to the threat, and 2) the force used is not excessive in comparison to the threat, and 3) the lowest amount of force is used first, with more force being used only if necessary.

    4 – However, in practice, given the legality of abortion and the fact that the authorities are already aware of the practice and sanction it, and given that the lowest and first step of using force is to inform the proper authorities of the situation, this thus means that, in practice, it is not possible to fulfil the requirements in Point 1, thus negating the ability to use of force, from a legal perspective, in this particular case.

    Now, before continuing, let me just quote the following from the Criminal Code of Canada:

    “Every one is justified in using as much force as is reasonably necessary

    (a) to prevent the commission of an offence

    (i) for which, if it were committed, the person who committed it might be arrested without warrant, and

    (ii) that would be likely to cause immediate and serious injury to the person or property of anyone; or

    (b) to prevent anything being done that, on reasonable grounds, he believes would, if it were done, be an offence mentioned in paragraph (a).”

    Did you read that? If you did, then you would realize something critical: that is just the legal version of what I said in Point 1. So the very Criminal Code of Canada agrees with exactly what I said in Point 1. Let’s make that clear before moving on.

    You said:

    There are many things wrong with this line of reasoning.

    2) does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of abortionists I know are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and that killing them is as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

    Seriously? This is your defense: that abortionists are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and so they are thus absolved due to their sincere conviction? Well, if this truly is your best defense, then it is, in a word, absurd. Why? Well, consider these parallel cases:

    1) Point 2 does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of Catholic priests who molested teenage boys were sincerely convinced that the teenage boys were old enough to give consent and thus having sexual relations with them was no more morally problematic as two adults consenting to sexual relations.

    2) Point 2 does not hold in many cases, because the Nazis who killed my fellow Polish countrymen in World War II were sincerely convinced that Slavs were not really persons and that killing them was as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

    3) Point 2 does not hold in many cases, because the materialist nihilist who killed a person and ate him was sincerely convinced that morality does not exist and that people are just sacks of meats and chemicals with no rights or dignity to speak of.

    Obviously, every one of my examples is absurd, and we all know it. In fact, we all know that we would criminally prosecute such people regardless of what they were “sincerely convinced” of. And yet my examples use the exact same reasoning as your example. So what does this mean? It means your example is absurd. And the fact that you did not immediately realize the fact that your point really was patently absurd does, quite frankly, scare me.

    Finally, note that your “sincerely convinced” defense of abortionists is, in point of fact, completely self-defeating. After all, those people that use force to stop abortionists are sincerely convinced that they are protecting innocent human beings from harm, and so, the fact that they are sincerely convinced of this fact should absolve them of responsibility as well, just as the fact that abortionists are sincerely convinced that they are doing nothing wrong absolves them, right? Again, the absurdity and incoherence of this position is literally palatable.

    You said:

    It goes without saying I strongly disagree with that but I don’t view them as moral monsters at all. Most abortion physicians act in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that “If you were blind, you would have no sin“.

    Once again, absolutely absurd. Consider:

    1 – Most Catholic priests who molested teenage boys and were sincerely convinced that they were old enough to consent thus acted in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that “If you were blind, you would have no sing.”

    2 – Most Nazis who were sincerely convinced that Poles (and Jews and other Slavs) were sub-humans, and thus killed them, were acting in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that “If you were blind, you would have no sin.”

    3 – Most materialist nihilists who are sincerely convinced that morality does not exist and that other humans are just valueless sacks of meat, and thus eat such other people, act in good conscience and Jesus reminds us that “If you were blind, you would have no sin.”

    Now let me repeat: your reasoning is clearly, obviously, and plainly absurd. But not only this, for your reasoning is also self-defeating. Consider:

    4 – Most individuals who use force against abortionists are sincerely convinced that they are saving innocent human beings and thus they act in good conscience and Jesus remind us that “If you were blind, you would have no sin.”

    So notice how your reasoning can be used to justify literally anything!

    You said:

    1) is outrageously false in many respects.

    A consequentialist justification of terrorism

    If 1) were to be consistently applied elsewhere, all societies would be plagued by an endless cycle of violence. As a Conservative Evangelical, RD tends to focus most of his moral indignation on sexual sins such as abortion (and alleged sins such as homosexuality).

    I’m a conservative evangelical? Wow, last time I checked, I was a Catholic who leans towards libertarianism. So yet another false assumption on your part.

    You said:

    But there are lots of other things people do which indirectly cause many innocent persons to pass away.

    During the Bush administration, Dick Cheney (and many of his colleagues) consciously started a gruesome war in Iraq which has caused countless innocent children and civilians to perish under an atrocious pain.

    If 1) were true, it would certainly have been moral for any member of the American Left to try to liquidate him.

    Or what about economically Conservative politicians whose decisions cause countless children in the third world to starve and perish?

    What about American Republican politicians who cause poor children to die because they don’t receive a sufficient healthcare?

    Or what about immoral CEOs whose decisions can predictably lead many of their employees to commit suicide (as it occurred in the enterprise of my father)?

    For the most part, these are absolutely incoherent and unsound comparisons. The fact is, in the case of abortion, if the unborn child is a human being, then the abortionist is clearly, directly, and unambiguously killing a human being. He is the direct and sole murderer. The cause and effect relationship is clear and without doubt. By contrast, in all these other cases, the cause and effect relation is murky at best. So the analogical comparison is extremely weak and shoddy. However, I should mention that if the cause and effect relationship was clear—say that a CEO’s negligence clearly and directly led to the death of an employee—then absolutely a citizen could, if necessary, use force to apprehend and stop the specific CEO. And so again, where your reasoning and your analogical comparisons try to defeat my argument, they are weak and generally not applicable. But where they are applicable, they simply strengthen my argument and show the soundness of it.

    You said:

    You see, all terrorist groups around the world (both secular and religious) use such a logic for justifying the use of “lethal” violence. I’ve absolutely no doubt that our society would very soon become a hopeless hell if 1) were to be adopted by a sufficiently large number of individuals.

    Remember how I demonstrated that the very Criminal Code of Canada has Point 1 enshrined as law? Well, it is the same for most other countries. So you are absolutely incorrect. The very laws of most countries support my Point 1. The fact that you did not check to see if that was the case again goes to show that you did not do your homework. Furthermore, the fact is, if should a law did not exist, then society would become a hopeless hell. It is only the existence of such a “Use of Force” law that keeps society in order. So you actually have things upside down.

    You said:

    Yet, Jesus wasn’t one of them and consistently rejected the use of violence against anyone.

    Yes, especially against those money-changers in the Temple. No violence there. Nope, none at all.

    You said:

    Since RD is a fiery defender of Biblical inerrancy, I want to quote verses which should put an end to any discussion:

    I am? Really? Actually, this is another false assumption on your part. Not only am I not a “fiery” defender of inerrancy, but on issues such as this, I actually take my cues more from the Catechism of the Catholic Church than the Bible.

    You said:

    “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

    Ahhh yes, the old classic of quoting little snippets of the Bible in an attempt to prove a point without considering the other scriptures that give the quoted scripture context and depth. But, in light of what I said above concerning my use of the Catechism rather than the Bible on such topics, this is all beside the point. And when you read the Catechism, you note that it supports the right to self-defence and to the use of force to protecting innocent third parties, which the Catechism considers unborn children to be (CCC 2258 – 2330).

    You said:

    I have nothing at all against RD and neither hate nor despise him. But what he wrote here is undoubtedly egregious and I just couldn’t not react to that even though I feel no personal enmity towards him.

    Indeed. And given the sheer absurdity of much of your response, I had to respond as well. The difference is, whereas my argument stands, your reply, as demonstrated, collapses into incoherence.

    You said:

    Being a Continental European (Germanic Frenchman), I ignore what the consequences in America might be. But if he were a French or German citizen having written that, he would now be (at the very least) closely watched by the French or German intelligence agencies and most likely condemned to prison for “incitement to violent acts.”

    Well, given that I am Canadian, this is yet another unwarranted assumption on your part. And thank you for the subtle threat that I should watch what I say lest I be arrested for “bad” speech. It is always encouraging to see progressives subtly hint at how the State might just have to arrest the people that disagree with them…all in the name of tolerance and equality, of course.

    You said:

    EVEN IF he did not call anyone to directly do that, it is undeniable he has unwittingly provided a justification for violent actions against physicians and nurses carrying out abortions. And mentally unstable people could very well take him very seriously.

    I’d advise him (and any other “Christian Righter” reading this) to become much more cautious in their writings and other assertions in the public sphere.

    Again, thank you for the subtle warning that non-progressive “bad think” might lead to sanctions against me by the State; sanctions which I have no doubt many progressives would happily support. Nevertheless, it is always good to see when the friendly mask of the progressive cracks and the real, ugly, and totalitarian face underneath is briefly exposed.

    You said:

    Of course, my hope is that it is their whole mentality which will change, following what I’ve outlined here.

    Well, since you have, quite frankly, outlined little more than an incoherent position, I have not learned very much. By contrast, I hope that you have seen just how absurd your position is, and then adjust your thinking accordingly. The fact is that my argument is completely coherent, logical, and sound: in principle, if unborn children are human beings, then it is legitimate to use force to protect them. In fact, if they are human beings, then not only is it legitimate to use force to protect them, but you would have a legal responsibility to do so under the Criminal Codes of most countries. So the whole question hinges on whether or not unborn children are human beings, not on whether the use of force can be legitimately used to protect innocent third parties.

    So, in summary, your post did the following: 1) it made assumptions about me which were flat-out incorrect, thus exposing a lack of fact-checking and critical reflection, and 2) its reasoning was weak at the best of times and downright absurd in many instances, and 3) it contained a veiled threat that I best watch out with what I say on-line or else I might get reported to the authorities for my views. Consequently, and quite frankly, to call your post “pathetic” would be giving it an undue compliment. And while I am honestly sorry that I needed to be so harsh in this case, it was necessary given the way you started your post and given the absolute absurdity of most of its content.

    Good day.

    RD Miksa

    • Thanks for your long answer. While I disagree with many things, I recognize I made indeed false assumptions and sincerely apologize for this 😦

      I’ll correct them in the post as soon as I can, right now I’m very busy.

      • Consider how quickly you would want someone to correct his/her blog post accusing you of the kinds of things of which you accused RD Miksa. You could at least slap a huge disclaimer on it, with a link to RD Miksa’s comment. Every second you do not, you increase the chance that more people will get a very wrong conception of who he is as a human being.

    • Thanks for this reply; I decided to attack a point that did not depend on the veracity of Marc’s characterization of your post, and sadly, I’m glad I did! This really forces a readjustment in my analysis of Marc; truth must come before ‘niceness’, and ‘niceness’ ⇏ ‘agápē’, just as ‘agápē’ ⇏ ‘niceness’. I’ve criticized his stance on ‘niceness’ before, but I now increase that criticism in intensity. We are told that Satan and his minions can appear as sheep! Jesus was absolutely gentle with those who knew they were sinners, and very much not-gentle with those who thought they were righteous.

      The following is from Os Guinness’ The Gravedigger File:

          A second type of faulty analysis involves a distortion in evaluation. The distinction between description and evaluation is not hard and fast, of course (even in science), but it is important. Let me illustrate. One evening, after dining at one of the Oxford colleges, Lord Nuffield was surprised at the porter’s accurate memory in handing him his hat. “How did you know it was mine?” he asked.
          The porter replied, “I didn’t, Sir! All I know was that it was the one you came in with! Such a cool and judicious refusal to make judgments that go beyond the evidence is exactly what is rare among Christians today. (43)

      Marc, I highly, highly suggest you integrate the above into how you deal with information and putting it in your own words. What makes your current method dangerous is that you quickly put terrible accusations (“Christian Taliban”, “wants to create a theocracy”, “egregious”) out on your blog in non-tentative ways. How about “quick to bless, slow to curse”, instead of “quick to curse”? Furthermore Marc, I saw this that RD Miksa quoted of your post:

      EVEN IF he did not call anyone to directly do that, it is undeniable he has unwittingly provided a justification for violent actions against physicians and nurses carrying out abortions. And mentally unstable people could very well take him very seriously.

      Are you aware that the Unabomber drew his motivations for his actions from Harvard freshman course material? A pastor friend of mine was a lawyer in his previous life and decided to peruse Kaczynski’s 35,000 manifesto. Ought we arrest or somehow else oppress Harvard people for teaching information that could be twisted into supporting terrorism?

      No, of course not. Were we to apply the standard you are insinuating in a consistent, non-hypocritical way, insane members of our society could seize control of the country. All they need to do is provoke their crazy friends to take various sayings of important people, twist them a little or a lot (taking a quotation out of context goes a long way), and then get said people “taken care of”.

      I’m guessing, but I’ll bet the only reason we need anti-hate-speech laws is because there aren’t very many mature adults in the world; most are children. If I personally heard something that really seemed like dangerous speech, I’d talk the person down, ramping up to a very not-nice level, instead of just standing by like a sheep. If a friend were saying something sufficiently dumb, I might just punch him (emphasis on ‘him’). It’s because individual citizens won’t stand up for what is right that we’re in this mess.

      Oh, and let’s talk about mentally ill people. Why is it that they can do what they do? I’ll bet that it’s because they’re isolated instead of welcomed into Christian community. American shows like Criminal Minds and CSI portray most of the terrible folks as having secret portions of their lives if not total isolation, shared by 0-2 people. The crazy and terrible happens when people are not integrated into society, with friends and people who actually care about them. Let’s treat mentally ill people as persons and not as canaries in a mine or something like that.

    • Dear RD., I know I was wrong about your religious and political convictions.

      Now I have several questions concerning the other points:

      1) If someone were to be about to kill an abortionist, would you clearly and categorically scream: “No! Don’t do that!” ?

      2) I really don’t understand the point of the argument.
      Would you say that killing an abortionist is morally permissible or advisable while not being legal?

      Or would you say it is immoral to do so, because given the situation in Canada it wouldn’t change a thing?

      I will write a post clarifying this and I don’t want to misrepresent you.

      • I’m not R.D., but I would say that the situations killing an abortionist would be appropriate are quite specific.

        1) Killing an abortionist would almost certainly lead to terrible overall results for pro-lifers

        2) If we don’t HAVE to kill the abortionist to save the child, we should not. Even in a world where killing the abortionist would not harm the pro-life cause, it should be a last resort.

        So I’d say that in the situation we are in right now killing an abortionist should almost certainly not be done.

      • When are abortionists killed in that video?

        For that matter, in that first story, there is no violence. Just a blockade. It’s 20 minutes, so I haven’t seen it all yet, but there’s a red flag of bias right there.

        The fact is while things like that happen for the most part pro-lifers tend to be pretty peaceful people. I know that the pro-lifers from my Catholic High School, which was a VERY pro-life school, would never dream of using violence. Stories like that are rare and used to scare people.

      • Okay, here’s the pattern I see here:

        1) The protesters tend to be very aggressive protesters, but normally stopping short of violence.

        2) Occasionally, a radical will come in and kill people. He is arrested.

        3) The people go back to their protests, often extreme and intimidating but rarely with actual violence.

        Was this covered enough? I don’t know. These early videos are from 20 or 20+ years ago, where I was either not born or barely born. So naturally I do not remember coverage.

        I DO know that the worst and most radical of the abortionists today tend to be routinely ignored by the media (Kermit Gosnell). If the graphic details of abortion are shown or publicized, it is almost always considered to be “radical intimidation” and swept under the rug, or the people showing the details are portrayed as extremists. Right now, the PR campaign for pro-choicers has obviously succeeded. The tide is turning, yes. I’m happy about that. But it hasn’t turned. Not yet.

        OR let’s look at what happened in Texas, when radical feminists and pro-choicers threw feces at peacefully protesting pro-lifers and tried to use a filibuster to circumvent the actual vote.

        So yeah, bad stuff happened. It’s certainly not the norm, and I’m certainly not trusting Rachel freaking Maddow to be the unbiased source in all of this.

      • What I addressed was this point of yours:

        1) Killing an abortionist would almost certainly lead to terrible overall results for pro-lifers

        and there don´t seem to be such bad results, the patterns of violence and murder have produced no negative consequences for pro-lifers (if you disagree, which negative consequences would that be in your opinion?). And them celebrating and proudly reenacting murder (the reenactment truly was a sight to behold, it almost looked as if the guy who played the shooter had a hard on) also doesn´t seem to have any consequences for them.

      • I’m thinking specifically of the unabomber here, which certainly hurt the cause public relations wise, I think (in any case, I hear it brought up quite a lot), but in any case, perhaps my point was underdeveloped. I don’t know the full details of each case or what the aftermath was, but I would say at least that each situation was more or less violence for violence’s sake, and certainly didn’t actually HELP matters. That’s one major reason I do not support it.

        I’ll put it to you this way: If the death penalty was put on the table for abortionists, I’d be in favor. But if someone killed an abortionist today who was about to perform an abortion, I would not be in favor, because I do not think this would actually stop the eventual abortion. Nor do I think this would help the overall cause, even if, in some cases, it doesn’t actually hurt it.

        I’ve talked to pro-choicers who say they don’t like the pro-life protesters because of how aggressive they are with the mothers who enter the clinic. The problem is that this is not the norm – it is the outlier, like the feces-throwing radical feminists. Or even Kermit Gosnell, for that matter.

        • No, no, you don’t understand: the worst outliers of my opponents represent all of them. End of story. Nuance is forbidden. They’re 100% evil (or at least 99.99%), while me and my buddies are in the right.

          >

      • I’m thinking specifically of the unabomber here, which certainly hurt the cause public relations wise, I think (in any case, I hear it brought up quite a lot), but in any case, perhaps my point was underdeveloped. I don’t know the full details of each case or what the aftermath was, but I would say at least that each situation was more or less violence for violence’s sake, and certainly didn’t actually HELP matters. That’s one major reason I do not support it.

        I’ll put it to you this way: If the death penalty was put on the table for abortionists, I’d be in favor. But if someone killed an abortionist today who was about to perform an abortion, I would not be in favor, because I do not think this would actually stop the eventual abortion. Nor do I think this would help the overall cause, even if, in some cases, it doesn’t actually hurt it.

        I see where you are coming from and I can empathize with that stance, at least to some degree. I know this feeling of outrage when you hear of a horrible crime and at least a part of you wants to see the perpetrator getting some of his own medicine, so to speak (but despite that, I´m still against the death penalty or any kind of retributive justice for that matter). I disagree with your premises obviously but I guess I wouldn´t feel very differently about this matter if I agreed with your premises. What I have absolutely no understanding for is the attitude of people like those that did the reenactment in the video you have watched (and the audience that cheered them on), and I think that sane pro-lifers do themselves and their cause no favours by making excuses for them or downplaying the matter.

      • I merely put what they do into context. Bloodlust is disturbing, and even the death penalty is a tragedy. We should not be celebrating, though in the case of a lawful execution we can be satisfied that justice has been served.

        But yeah, like our last discussion it all comes down to a matter of accepting the premises.

  7. I’m really not a huge fan of the abortion lobby…

    Oh, this is rich. You’re “not really a huge fan” of the abortion lobby. The lobby that advocates the legality of killing children, you’re just “not really a huge fan.

    I’m “not really a huge fan” of the baseball team the Pittsburgh Pirates. I despise any lobby that advocates mass murder.

    2) does not hold in many cases, because the large majority of abortionists I know are sincerely convinced that unborn children are not yet persons and that killing them is as morally problematic as throwing away a bunch of outworn chemicals into a wastebasket.

    Come on Marc. You’re smarter than this. So if a Nazi is about to shoot a Jew and you can take him down, and your only way to do so was to kill him before he shot the Jew, you would not support this because “the Nazi really believes he’s just putting down an animal?” This is ridiculous.

    During the Bush administration, Dick Cheney (and many of his colleagues) consciously started a gruesome war in Iraq which has caused countless innocent children and civilians to perish under an atrocious pain.

    If 1) were true, it would certainly have been moral for any member of the American Left to try to liquidate him.

    There is so much wrong with this.

    An abortionist sticks surgical instruments into a woman’s uterus to rip or vacuum apart a child. Dick Cheney and his colleagues voted to go into a war with enemy combatants, on a battlefield. They did not directly kill anybody and did not target innocents specifically.

    Furthermore, killing them would have done nothing but kill them; stopping an abortionist from killing a child, hopefully without killing them (a point you don’t seem to grasp at all) saves a child’s life. Directly. Killing Dick Cheney may or may not stop a war that MIGHT cause innocents to die, but not through intentional targeting, and that may or may not have been justified anyway.

    You don’t see how your response makes absolutely no sense?

    R.D. Miksa has already taken you down hard. But I just want you to know that I find your characterization of both him and his arguments disgusting.

  8. Well, there is not a whole lot to add on my part, but I thought I would emphasize a little something, namely this:

    “1) It is always permissible to kill someone who is about to consciously put an end to an innocent human life.

    2) Abortionists are consciously putting an end to many innocent human lives.

    3) Thus it is allowed to kill abortionists.”

    I hadn’t even read RD Miksa’s comment (though I now have), and I already had significant red-flags going up here. Premise 1 seemed too easy, too simple, too obviously false, that I simply couldn’t believe it was what RD was getting at. Turns out, as he stated, I was correct, and I’m wondering how on earth you managed to get that from what he said. He seemed to emphasize the whole “last resort” situation, plus not taking into account things like those who would kill another in self-defense, et al. seems like too obvious an oversight. And it would be one thing if you were attributing an obvious oversight to someone obviously innocent of any knowledge of logic or the Cult of Gnu, but I think attributing such a misstep to someone who is obviously on a much higher level ought to make on pause, at least briefly. While I do not like to attribute malicious motives, I think the most charitable take on this would be to say you did nothing more than a cursory reading of RD Miksa’s comment (cause there were some pretty unobscure qualifiers in there) and somehow overlooked how obviously objectionable a premise you constructed from what you did get from it (which would have ideally caused a pause.and reflection of what you read, and perhaps a more careful reading).

    I realize there is already some bad blood in the combox and post already, but this seemed to blatant to overlook.

    With regards.

    • Oops.
      This: “…but this seemed to blatant to overlook.”
      Should be this: “…but this seemed too blatant to overlook.”

      Really small stuff, I realize, but it was bugging me. More for me than anyone else.

  9. I didn’t read the Deuce’s comment to me until I followed your link to your post today. I expect such a reaction from people like the Deuce. It bothers me not at all. If I put my opinions out there, then such ad hominem attacks such as being called not a true Christian are the price I pay. I’m secure in where I stand right now. You don’t have to do anything to my own mind. I believe in another comment that I made, I suggested I’d get bashed for what I say. This is the arena of public debate, it gets rough, and I’m not following strawman arguments or what flows out of those arguments. It’s just not worth the time.

    • I’m secure in where I stand right now.

      Si enim fallor, sum. :-p But really, Sheila, that security seems very dangerous. You are agreeing with the State’s definitions, the State’s way of looking at things, over and above your attempt to see them better than the State does, in a more godly way than the secular state does. How do you go about challenging the State to become more godlike?

      • I don’t agree with the State that killing a baby in his mother’s womb is unproblematic.

        What I clearly reject is the morality of using violence for changing this state of affairs.

        The first Christians were utterly repulsed by the Roman practice of killing disabled babies.

        Still, they did not use violence and murder for overturning this but peacefully grew in the society and used their influence to change this.

        During his prophetic action against the Second Temple, Jesus did not grab and beat people and he didn’t by any means strike someone down.

          • Dear Luke, I sincerely find you’re a great and sensible guy with many interesting ideas.

            Are you really saying that it would not be wrong if tomorrow 100 abortionists were to be assassinated by Christians in your country?

            Maybe Jesus should have been a violent zealot after all.

          • Are you not willing to answer my question? Sometimes, answering a question with a question is a means for clarification. In this case, it is hard to avoid interpreting this as a dodge, as an attempt to say that your [hopefully obvious] answer to my question is completely irrelevant. Do feel free to make that point, but let’s hear you actually answer my question?

          • The abortion lobby REALLY sucks. This should be limited to women whose health is gravely endangered by the pregnancy.

            It is incredibly gruesome that they sometimes celebrate the fact that a girl chose to abort instead of keeping the baby.

          • labreuer: Was it wrong for the Allies to use violence against the Axis?

            lotharson: Are you really saying that it would not be wrong if tomorrow 100 abortionists were to be assassinated by Christians in your country?

            labreuer: Are you not willing to answer my question? Sometimes, answering a question with a question is a means for clarification. In this case, it is hard to avoid interpreting this as a dodge, as an attempt to say that your [hopefully obvious] answer to my question is completely irrelevant. Do feel free to make that point, but let’s hear you actually answer my question?

            lotharson: The abortion lobby REALLY sucks. This should be limited to women whose health is gravely endangered by the pregnancy.

            It is incredibly gruesome that they sometimes celebrate the fact that a girl chose to abort instead of keeping the baby.

            I notice that you still have not answered my question. Why? I will now answer yours, despite the fact that you refused to extend me that courtesy.

            If it were the case that assassinating 100 abortionists were to stop all abortion in the United States, I think it’d be worth it. For, we would argue that if assassinating 100 Germans in 1935 were all it took to avert WWII, we would accept the trade of 100 German lives for 6,000,000 Jewish lives, in addition to all the other lives lost.

            However, it is the case that assassinating 100 abortionists would almost certainly not stop abortion in the US, and therefore, would not prevent very many if any future abortions. This would be similar to the situation in which Hitler was assassinated, but the Holocaust went on relatively unchanged. If that were the case, I would argue that assassinating Hitler would have been the wrong thing to do.

            You see, Marc, I am attempting to be as logical as I can be, as consistent as I can be, and willing to explore darkness that you appear to think is too “not nice” to explore. And so, you give the appearance of refraining from exploring the logical conclusions of your ideas. Maybe this is not what you in fact do; I can only evaluate based on what I have seen so far.

            So, given that I have extended you the courtesy of giving you a well-reasoned response, would you care do extend me the same courtesy? After all, that is what would be ‘nice’, right?

          • I admit it is a moral dilemma.

            I’d certainly advocate killing the Nazis for saving the Jews. (By the way, as Andy pointed out using the word “Germans” in general can be quite offensive since during the large majority of their history, Germans haven’t massacred Jews.)

            Concerning the killing of the LEGAL abortionists, I strongly doubt that the first Christians would have acted that way, even if this would have saved the lives of the babies.
            Paul clearly taught them to respect the laws of the State and they did not stop the gruesome roman baby killing by eliminating the perpetrators.
            And Jesus did not kill or order to kill the Roman occupants killing innocents.

            At the very least it is only fair to say that the Bible does not provide us with a coherent picture on this issue. I can find you plenty of verses in the OT which are really anti-life towards those judged unworthy of living by the writers.

            Cheers.

          • So if the law said it was ok to kill the Jews, you wouldn’t use violence against the State? Or would you? I want to understand what place the law has in this whole conversation. It seems awfully like the law is ok to hide behind if unborn humans are being exterminated, but not if Jews are exterminated. Is that correct, or have I misunderstood?

            Let’s just focus on making good comparisons, before talking about Jesus and nonviolence. That is an excellent topic and apparently Jacques Ellul has some fascinating stuff to say about it, but I want to first test this idea of “LEGAL”.

            Point taken on how the word “German” is used.

          • On what moral grounds do you believe that causing deaths INDIRECTLY does not justify killing a person if this saves the life?

            Let us suppose that a CEO knows perfectly well that a decision would lead to many suicides and made it nonetheless for fulfilling his greed.

            Why would it not be morally permissible to assassinate him?

          • So, my personal position is that Christians are called to be like sheep sent to the slaughter. They are to be the best of society, and they are to be the first who are murdered by evil power. They are not to fight, except to proclaim the truth to power. But this position is a fairly new one, and it is not well-developed.

            Given that position, I am disinclined to even assassinate a future Hitler, were I given the chance. I’m reminded of Babylon 5: The Lost Tails § Voices in the Dark, which asks the question of whether assassination or risky attempt to rehabilitate will be chosen. I choose risky attempt to rehabilitate.

            However, this position obscures the issue if not handled carefully. If I thought assassinating Hitler was ok because it would stop 6,000,000+ deaths, then I would also think that assassinating 100 abortionists would be ok, if that would actually stop, say, 100,000+ deaths. I dunno, I find numbers weird, but when they get big enough, things ‘seem’ to get simpler. Whether they do or this is an illusion, I do not know.

            The acid test, of course, is the person who would sanction assassination of Hitler but not of the abortionists, ceteris paribus. And if we don’t make it ceteris paribus, then our comparisons are ridiculously stupid and we ought to stop talking! Make sense?

      • @labreuer:

        If it were the case that assassinating 100 abortionists were to stop all abortion in the United States, I think it’d be worth it.

        However, it is the case that assassinating 100 abortionists would almost certainly not stop abortion in the US, and therefore, would not prevent very many if any future abortions.

        Don´t be so pessimistic, terrorism can and does work sometimes – you just have to think strategically and be willing to make sacrifices. What you want is to “stop all abortion”, and if you create a situation where no doctor would dare to perform an abortion, you would have reached your goal. Now, many such doctors are willing to risk their own lives, especially those who already survived an assassination attempt – that´s why killing them is just the start. Learn from the pros (e.g. Colombian drug cartels), after you killed them, you have to bomb their funerals – go for their families. That will only work once or twice because security will be too tight after that, but you might still be able to kill some of those families with car bombs or something like that (don´t do it immediatly after you´ve killed the abortion doctor because the family most likely will have a security detail, be patient – your chance will come). Maybe a dozen or so families would already be enough, and you would have reached your goal – no doctor would dare to risk not only his own live but rather that of his entire family.
        You can´t do it alone and it is extraordinarily unlikely that you will survive this, but based on many of your other comments – you seem to love the idea of martyrdom, so go for it.

      • Would you have attempted to assassinate Hitler, Andy?

        Yup.
        So what are you waiting for? Shoot those Hitlers, bomb their Hitler families and stop abortion. You aren´t a coward, are you?

        • That you asked the question you did indicates that you’ve cherry-picked from what I have said. Given your current attitude, I’m not at all hopeful that my doing the work to quote myself would be worth it. Go ahead and mock—you do it well. It probably feels very good, and maybe you’ll find some admirers, even on a blog like this. Maybe we should stop talking to each other for a while again, Andy.

      • @labreuer:

        That you asked the question you did indicates that you’ve cherry-picked from what I have said. Given your current attitude, I’m not at all hopeful that my doing the work to quote myself would be worth it. Go ahead and mock—you do it well.

        Eh? Luke, this is what you told Marc earlier:
        “You see, Marc, I am attempting to be as logical as I can be, as consistent as I can be, and willing to explore darkness that you appear to think is too “not nice” to explore.”
        – tough talk, but when one doesn´t just talk about doing it but rather actually DOES explore this “darkness”, you perceive it as mockery. That is very revealing.

      • Please actually quote and cite what you’re talking about, instead of making vague accusations.

        I *did* actually quote you, scroll up and you can read me quoting you (which you must have read before unless you reply to comments that you do not read).
        But here they are again for your convenience:

        If it were the case that assassinating 100 abortionists were to stop all abortion in the United States, I think it’d be worth it.

        However, it is the case that assassinating 100 abortionists would almost certainly not stop abortion in the US, and therefore, would not prevent
        very many if any future abortions.

        You see, Marc, I am attempting to be as logical as I can be, as consistent as I can be, and willing to explore darkness that you appear to think is too “not nice” to explore.”

        And you don´t seem to be actually willing to explore this “darkness”, in fact, you perceive the exploration of this “darkness” as mockery.
        By all means, be as consistent and logical as you can be, be brutally honest, do explore this “darkness” and see where it leads to.

        • I *did* actually quote you

          You did not do this in the precise comment accusing me of hypocrisy.

          And you don´t seem to be actually willing to explore this “darkness”, in fact, you perceive the exploration of this “darkness” as mockery.

          So what you actually seem to be referring to is this little exchange:

          AS: Yup.
          So what are you waiting for? Shoot those Hitlers, bomb their Hitler families and stop abortion. You aren´t a coward, are you?

          LB: That you asked the question you did indicates that you’ve cherry-picked from what I have said. Given your current attitude, I’m not at all hopeful that my doing the work to quote myself would be worth it. Go ahead and mock—you do it well. It probably feels very good, and maybe you’ll find some admirers, even on a blog like this. Maybe we should stop talking to each other for a while again, Andy.

          The reason I perceived that as mockery is that you 100% ignored:

          LB: So, my personal position is that Christians are called to be like sheep sent to the slaughter. They are to be the best of society, and they are to be the first who are murdered by evil power. They are not to fight, except to proclaim the truth to power. But this position is a fairly new one, and it is not well-developed.

          Given that position, I am disinclined to even assassinate a future Hitler, were I given the chance. I’m reminded of Babylon 5: The Lost Tails § Voices in the Dark, which asks the question of whether assassination or risky attempt to rehabilitate will be chosen. I choose risky attempt to rehabilitate.

          The rest of that comment is my attempting to show that if one thinks it is ok to assassinate Hitler, other violence must be justified unless one just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about being consistent. In Marc’s blog post, he offered scathing condemnation which, I claim, if properly applied in a consistent manner, would also scathingly condemn anyone who would assassinate Hitler.

          So yeah, I’m not particularly interested in exploring the effectiveness and morality of terrorism/freedom fighting. That’s a whole different topic. Why don’t you blog on it and link me, or ask Marc to blog on it?

    • If I put my opinions out there, then such ad hominem attacks such as being called not a true Christian are the price I pay…

      Here we go. The Great Persecuted Sheila is here. She doesn’t need to respond to the thing people say; opposing arguments are the price she pays for her opinions. If only people would look past their hatred, perhaps they could see how wise Sheila really is. In truth, she’s rather like Jesus: Persecuted for her ideas. She suffers.

      Hey Sheila: Deuce did not make an ad hominem attack. That is a logical fallacy where instead of responding to your argument he also attacks your character. Instead, Deuce responded to your point with logical arguments and then inferred that, due to your blatant disrespect and disregard for the teachings of a Church you claim to follow, you are not really a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

      But you have no need to respond, because opposing arguments? Well, they’re just the price you pay for nobly bringing the Truth to the world.

    • You did have quite a lot of those, Sheila. Admittedly it’s hard to try and come up with responses to the many, many problems with the thing you said.

      But then, our arguments aren’t valid, are they? They’re just hatred. They’re the price you pay. Behold, the Prophet Sheila: The only rational one in a sea of conservative hate-mongers.

      • 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

        Lovely greetings 🙂

      • I think that ALL of us ought to let Christ’s exhortation sink deeply in .

        I’m far from being perfect in that respect but I do try to love those strongly disagreeing with me, even if they do egregious mistakes, because I do want to be forgiven for my own egregiousness.

        I admonish you to sincerely ask yourself before God what it means to love Sheila (or me for that matter).

      • It certainly does not mean to act as if wrong is right or true is false, Marc. Sheila has has been accusing other people, falsely, of strawmen arguments and ad hominem attacks, she has publicly and repeatedly stated the many things she disagrees with the Church she claims to follow, she has misrepresented opposing arguments and gotten angry when called out on it…and then gone on to claim that SHE was the victim in all of this, that this was the price she had to pay.

        Of course we should love our enemies. Were Sheila to come in truly repentant, forgiveness would be offered with no hesitation whatsoever. But I’m not going to pretend that doesn’t need to happen, and I won’t refrain from calling her out on the things she says.

        • Interesting. Did Jesus (to your mind) teach us we only have to forgive repentant enemies?

          What are we to do if we have mutually sinned against one another?

          I personally will only use harsh words towards those CONSTANTLY bullying others in spite of every exhortation and warning, such as nasty fundamentalists or the large majority of anti-theists.

          But most persons are not like that and in such cases it’s always good to do one’s best to get reconciled even if they didn’t (yet) repent.

          Believe my experience: once the reconciliation is over, many people will apologize after they’ve calmed down.

          I think one can certainly learn to develop such an attitude.

          I’m extremely restless and impulsive but I’m cultivating the habit to always seek to be at peace with everybody, no matter his or her political or ideological conviction and subjective tastes.

          And by peace I don’t mean the absence of arguments but a spirit of mutual respect and love.
          I think I have managed to develop a naturally friendly personality though I’m still a work in progress. In wasn’t like that several years ago.
          I believe that the Church should really make a difference by being a place where an unbreakable love can be recognized, a refuge in a callous and hostile world.

          Both “progressives” (as you define them) and Conservatives fall very short from that goal.
          And I find this really saddening.

          Shalom.

          P.S: I was speaking in general.

          • Tell that to Jesus 😉

            When he referred to “enemies” , I don’t really think he just meant people who had already repented and begged for forgiveness.
            But that’s just poor me.

          • Well, there’s “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But forgiveness doesn’t save people from failure to repent. I’m reminded of John 3:17+. However, what, precisely is the point, here? People leaving a conversation because they find others ‘mean’ is just a fact of life, and given that people have finite emotional energy to expend, it is perfectly understandable. Is it being claimed that Sheila is being expressly hypocritical? If so, I suggest someone break out the blockquotes and demonstrate it clearly. Otherwise this conversation will go precisely nowhere.

      • When he referred to “enemies” , I don’t really think he just meant people who had already repented and begged for forgiveness.

        There’s also a difference between ‘forgiveness’ and ‘turning a blind eye to everything someone is doing’. Put bluntly, to forgive an asshole doesn’t mean the person is no longer an asshole, nor does it mean that a liar is suddenly totally capable of being trusted.

        While I’m barely watching this case, Sheila cheered on John Shore’s hate speech gleefully. Yet it’s being demanded that she be spared, what.. criticism? Intellectual condemnation? Thin stuff, that.

        I mean even this: I personally will only use harsh words towards those CONSTANTLY bullying others in spite of every exhortation and warning, such as nasty fundamentalists or the large majority of anti-theists.

        Who ARE these ‘nasty fundamentalists’? The anti-theists are one thing. They have a track record, even books and organizations where this kind of thing is popular. But the ‘nasty fundamentalists’? I asked you to point them out to me once, but saw little evidence. And of the ones who exist, they seem to be fringe compared to what is the progressive mainstream.

        So, I have to stand with Malcolm’s rationale here. And to be honest? I’ve experienced far too many times the obvious exploitation of Christianity by people seeking to undermine it, on this particular point. Lots of ‘Crude found out I was plagiarizing and he keeps bringing it up, a REAL CHRISTIAN would forgive me and never bring it up again!’ and ‘Crude made fun of me, a REAL CHRISTIAN would never do that and also put up with all my mockery of Christians in silence’. In this case it looks like, ‘I want to be part of your church, but reject its teachings and even work to undermine it. You say I’m not really part of it? You’re so mean and hateful.’

      • And I suppose, I could cut right to what I think is close to the heart of the divide here.

        “It’s terrible that you’d use strong language and denounce someone for being in favor of slaughtering the unborn! We should save that sort of treatment for people who really deserve it – like opponents of gay marriage, gun owners, and Hobby Lobby.”

        • It’s good to see you commenting again, Crude! I am sick and tired of the obsession with niceness; I would prefer an obsession with truth and love, including love of those who cannot defend themselves.

        • Oof, it is sad that such things have to be written, but I am not so naïve that I would pretend that we could get by without them. I became hyper-vigilant about Sheila in this thread when she heavily implied that: (a) if it’s legal it’s ok; (b) we as individuals don’t have the competence to question the State. Very scary stuff!

      • labreuer,

        Thanks. I never go away, I just stick to my own blog for a bit.

        I’m all in favor of civility and respect when it’s appropriate and reciprocated. I used to be a big advocate of exactly that with liberal Christians – it took a lot of nasty, too-hard-to-ignore evidence to the contrary to make me realize it was largely a wasted effort.

        And I agree about the State. I am not opposed to all government intervention, even welfare, but right now the State occupies a kind of papacy, and quite possibly deity, for a lot of people. It is not a god I have interest in, and more blood has been sacrificed to it than any religion.

        • And I agree about the State. I am not opposed to all government intervention, even welfare, but right now the State occupies a kind of papacy, and quite possibly deity, for a lot of people. It is not a god I have interest in, and more blood has been sacrificed to it than any religion.

          I would modify your last statement: “more blood has been sacrificed to it than any other religion”. From sociologist Peter Berger’s Facing Up to Modernity:

          Even if it were true that socialism is the only rational conclusion, this would not explain its dissemination among specific social groups. Modern science, for example, may also be described as the only rational conclusion for certain questions about nature—and yet it took millennia before it came to be established in specific groups in a specific corner of the world. Ideas neither triumph nor fail in history because of their intrinsic truth or falsity. Furthermore, the affinity between intellectuals and socialism is clearly more than a matter of rational arguments. It is suffused with values, with moral passion, in many cases with profoundly religious hope—in sum, with precisely those characteristics which permit speaking of a socialist myth (in a descriptive, nonpejorative sense.) (58)

          The socialist myth promises the fulfillment of both the rational dreams of the Enlightenment and the manifold aspirations of those to whom the Enlightenment has been an alienating experience. Such a promise inevitably grates against its imperfect realization in empirical reality, frustrating and often enraging its believers. This is nothing new in the long history of eschatologies, which is inevitably a history of the psychology of disappointment. (62–3)

          If we exclude worship of the State from being a religion, then we vastly weaken the term ‘religion’, by making the term no longer a natural kind. This has been a growing theme, which especially shows up in Jonathan Pearce’s recent Can religion be destroyed? (Pearce and John Loftus are buddies.) I see the attack on ‘religion’, as defined by gnu atheists, as an insidious plan to insert their own concept of ‘the good’ into all thinking, very much in line with what CS Lewis described in The Abolition of Man.

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