05 June 2007

Part II

Hello again awesome Villagers and happy feast of St. Boniface! St. Boniface is known for his martyrdom and missionary work among the 8th century Germanic tribes, both converting pagans to Christianity and correcting those Christians that had grown weak in their faith and were lapsing into paganism. How sadly our culture today resembles that culture of over 12 centuries ago. But how wonderful that our God is still working, still calling to His people, and still sending His servants to them--us!

I thought I'd share with you part 2 in my discussion with my friend the atheist. I won't post his response to my article (the entry below) lest his views be mistaken as views held by the Village, but in essence he responded by upholding his reasons for believing that abortion should not be banned. Those of you on facebook can read about it there. After a lot of prayer, and thought, and listening to what was at the heart of what my friend was saying and why we had different opinions, God helped me write the following. It's humbling to realize that however great my desire to evangelize might be, I can't do anything unless God provides 1) the opportunity and 2) the words or actions that will convict. I don't know for sure what effect these words had (warning: some of them are BIG words), but my trust is in the God who alone can touch hearts and who can do anything!

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness" --Psalm 115:1
The Heart of the Issue

I am glad that Dan saw fit to respond to my post, and pleased that we agreed on the point of religious tolerance after all, despite what initially seemed to be a disagreement. But I am not sure I want to engage in an incendiary debate on life and death issues in the unlikely venue of facebook. My concern is that such an exchange of thrusts with intellectual rapiers, particularly if we are both too well protected by the face-masks of our agendas to acknowledge a touché, would only end in a draw. Perhaps it would shed more light on things if I were to examine the reason for the dichotomy in our viewpoints?

Dan presents a reasonable list of variables in the equation of whether or not abortion should be banned (acquired, I believe, from balancedpolitics.org). The url for his note is:


I submit that in the realm of reason, all of these are debatable and may be argued from either side. How then do we know what reasoning is most correct? Surely in a matter of life and death, all interpretations are not equally valid. How can we know? The problem is, if our guiding principle is relativism, we can’t. In the sea of confusion, the compass of relativism is like the magic compass in Pirates of the Caribbean (pardon the analogy, it was simply convenient) that points to what it is we want. Thus guided by relativistic principles, we can consider arguments from both sides, see which side of the balance goes down, throw out arguments we decide are not worth our time, reconsider, and arrive at exactly what we want to believe, in, of course, a perfectly logical fashion.

Let’s look again at the variables in our equation. There is one that deserves special treatment, as it has the most grey area, and is the ultimate deciding factor in whether abortion is an innocuous medical procedure that should be legal or a form of murder that should be banned: is an unborn child a human life? This is the question that leaves our problem underspecified in the realm of reason. Its answer is confined to the realm of belief.

Dan chose an approach very common in engineering to solve the equation. He simply side-stepped it, stating that one cannot make laws that inconvenience people because other people believe something that the inconvenienced people don’t believe. He made the assumption that the realm of belief does not encroach on the realm of reason, or at least that its effect is negligible. Is his answer correct? If not, does he get partial credit for his approach to the solution?

I could approach the problem the same way Dan did. I could go back over the logic, tweak a few things, and get a different answer. Maybe he’ll agree that my math or logic or interpretation of things is more correct, or maybe we’ll end where we began with no clue whose arguments are better. Then I’ll have to confess that I already consulted the answer key, which used a different approach to the problem, and made sure my answer was consistent with that.

The key uses a different simplifying assumption concerning the realm of belief. This approach is also very common in engineering: if information is not given, it is because it can be deduced by invoking an external law that governs the given situation. The law to use is absolute truth, which governs the realm of belief. The absolute truth is not democratic: it decides what in the realm of belief is true, whether those affected by it believe so or not. It says that one must inconvenience the people who don’t believe something if that something is really very important (like that a human life is inviolable) and it happens to be the truth. In the sea of confusion, the compass of absolute truth points due north. The truth is fixed, unchanging, and unchangeable.

I leave Dan with the following sources to explore. Perhaps they will inform him of some things he did not realize before (for instance, that the pro-life movement includes non-Christian religions and secularists as well as Christians, and that it is not zygotes that are aborted, but fetuses with heart beats, brain waves, and developing human body parts), and perhaps lead him to solve the equation differently using his preferred approach. But moreover, I hope the gifts of intellect and reason he has been given will lead him to explore the realm of belief. It takes humility to descend the throne of one’s life, relinquish the title of god of one’s own destiny. It takes a humble faith to profess something beyond one’s understanding. But in realizing that we all began our being as zygotes, we were all born helpless and in need of love and care, and that one day we will all die whether or not we want to, and our reason cannot tell us what happens next, we can find this humility. And in a humble attitude, we can find God.






i heart nemo said...

You've probably heard about the plane crash already but....i just wanted to let you know that the father gabriel richard women's track coach, Richard Chenault, was on that plane. a lot of people, including his family, close friends, and the track team are devastated by this tradgedy so please keep them ALL in ur prayers!

Mountain Climber said...

I will for sure pray for Richard Chenault and his family.