👁 Most recently revised on 15 November 2022 by Pious Eye (David M. Hodges) 👁
Welcome to the latest edition of the series formerly known as “prompted letters,” which chronicles my off-site correspondence with all and sundry. As will be noted in the Pious Eye “About” page when I get around to updating it, all posts on this site are snapshots of my thinking at whatever point in time I wrote down the posted material. Since I’m always modifying and improving my thinking — or trying to — past snapshots may not always match my current opinions exactly. The following materials are snapshots of my thinking at certain points during the third quarter (July, August, and September) of 2022. As I corresponded a good deal during this quarter, I’ll need to break the collection into parts. This is part one.
As you’ll soon see, my correspondence this quarter includes comments on YouTube videos. I undoubtedly watch too many videos on both YouTube and Rumble. Like Lauren Chen, I’m a bit of a Mediaholic. But, unlike Chen, I’ve found I just can’t consume most media currently produced for entertainment. Our culture has degenerated to a point where even material rated PG-13 can now be filled from start to finish with uses of the Lord’s name in vain, aka blasphemy, and, of late, at least a few uses of “the F word” and plenty of “the S word.” Though I’m only actually offended by the blasphemy, the other bad language is a negative influence I’m obligated to minimize my exposure to if I want to pursue sanctification in my speech and thinking. And, of course, the bad language is joined to immoral content of whatever sort writers and producers can get away with. Deprived of the mind-numbing television and movie entertainment I crave, I’ve sought out more than a reasonable share of videos from online broadcasters sensible enough (so far) to keep it clean.
One thing that has disappointed me is how rarely YouTube broadcasters respond to comments. Aside from occasionally highlighting them because, presumably, they are so outrageous that the broadcaster believes they will attract responses from other viewers, broadcasters generally pass over my comments in silence. This is true even when my comments include direct questions to the broadcasters. Though I realize broadcasters are busy people, I would think some interaction with commenters would improve algorithmic ranks of the videos. Then again, perhaps YouTube has set up its algorithms to discourage broadcasters from responding. This seems unlikely, but it might explain why even some small broadcasters with few subscribers and limited views don’t bother answering questions.
Here’s what’s included:
- Unposted comments on a minor point in an excellent documentary on abortion abolitionism.
- Comments on a discussion of abortion posted by the Libertarian Christian Institute.
- My letter urging the Governor of California to repent and stop supporting murder of the innocent unborn in my state.
- Some closing thoughts on these three items.
Unposted Comments Come Rolling Down the Page ^
Comments on: A Storm Comes Rolling Down the Plain.
Date: I viewed the video and drafted my initial comments on 05 May 2022. On 01 July 2022, I modified the comments. In the end, I decided not to post them. Since I last touched them in July, I’m calling this an unsent item of correspondence for July rather than May.
The leaders of the abortion-abolitionist movement are Christian presuppositionalists. This means, among other things, that they hold that unbelievers cannot justify their moral convictions on the basis of their unbelieving worldview. A presuppositionalist myself, I agree with them. As I’ve noted more than once before on this site, however, I see no harm in reasoning on the unbelieving basis as a thought experiment or learning exercise.
Popular resurrection-centered evidentialist apologetics is a good example of how this can be helpful. Even though unbelievers shouldn’t believe in trustworthy historical knowledge at all given their worldview, those who do should grant that Christ’s resurrection better deserves to be believed than various historical “facts” they take for granted. You could say that, when it comes to apologetics methodology, my guiding principle is “whatever works.”
I find some justification for this in an anecdote offered by the author of a journal article on Pascal’s Wager I once read. That anecdote, as I recall it, told of a man, we’ll call him Richard, who believes a relative, let’s say his uncle George, is dead. The man comes to doubt this belief when a friend of his, returning from travel abroad, swears to him that he saw George alive and well in a restaurant in Paris. As it happens, Richard’s friend is mistaken: the man he saw in Paris was not George. He was just some guy that resembled him. Based on the erroneous story, however, Richard travels to Paris and, despite his friend’s error, discovers that his uncle George really is living. Though his friend’s apologetic showing that George was still alive was not methodologically sound, it still put Richard back in contact with his living uncle. So, methodology, shmethodology! The whole point of apologetics is to put people back in contact with a living person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Contact is contact.
The following unposted comments are a thought experiment or instructive exercise along the same lines.
Though I grant the ultimately self-refuting quality of all arguments based on rejection of or neutrality toward truth as God has revealed it in Scripture, one can make an argument for human personhood from conception to natural death from within the “neutral” framework that is about as persuasive as any other argument made within that framework.
To define human personhood, one really has only two options: (1) base personhood on some fundamental essence that all humans share throughout their existence, or (2) base personhood on some arbitrarily selected faculties deemed characteristically human and personal, such as self-awareness, the ability to reason, and so on.
Option two is simply unworkable. For instance, it allows for a human person to become a nonperson during a coma, while under general anesthetic, possibly even when taking a nap. If we try to fix the problem by saying that temporary lack of the test faculty doesn’t count against personhood, then on what basis would the temporary delay in the faculty’s development after conception be said to disqualify a human embryo or fetus from personhood? Fantasies about sentient androids qualifying as persons by acquiring certain faculties notwithstanding (Did Commander Data cease to be a person whenever he was shut off?), I don’t see any coherent way to base an understanding of human personhood on present possession of faculties.
That leaves option one. So far as I can see, the only points at which the fundamental human essence of the individual can be said to change are (1) at conception, when the individual first comes into being as a new, unique, living physical entity; and (2) at natural death, when that individual physical life as a separate entity ceases.[*] Since people can sometimes apparently be dead before being revived, we might even have to add “at natural death when all methods at resuscitation fail.” Trying to define personhood as spanning only a portion of the living physical existence of the individual cannot fail to be arbitrary. Faculties come, sometimes go, sometimes come back again. Fundamental human individuality starts at conception, ends at (final and humanly irreversible) death (as far as earthly physical life goes), and never alters at any point along the way, regardless of the temporary state of the individual’s various faculties. [* I’ve carefully avoiding suggesting that, as the common saying goes, “life begins at conception.” That isn’t strictly true. At conception, two living cells from parents merge to form a new living individual. Though the separate life of the new human individual begins at conception, life here begets life. There is no point in the process where a nonliving entity is involved. If you want to know why I think this needs to be emphasized, see Bart Kosko’s ridiculous charts related to abortion on pages 37 and 247 of his 1993 book Fuzzy Thinking.]
I doubt this argument is quite so airtight as to qualify for a concluding Q.E.D., but, at present, I don’t see any way around it from within the “neutral” (agnostic) framework.
Governments Are Instituted Among Men To Protect the Rights of Even the Unborn Governed ^
Comments on: Religion is Not the Basis for Opposing Abortion, with Jose Galison.
Date: I initially viewed and commented on this video on 17 June 2022. Based on the last-modified date on my local text-file copy, however, I believe I must have made some edits in July. I’ve therefore included it among my July correspondence. It also happens to fit in well with the prior item.
The Libertarian pro-lifer central to this video, Kerry Baldwin, approaches the issue of abortion from a religiously neutral position that the abortion abolitionists in the documentary discussed above would find distasteful. We presuppositionalists believe, of course, that religious neutrality is impossible and that all knowledge claims ultimately boil down to certain foundational commitments one cannot independently justify. Thinking has to start somewhere, and we believe starting it anywhere but with the Christian (real, biblical) God and his written revelation to us (the Bible) makes one’s whole system of thought incapable of holding up under rigorous analysis. (Since we’ve not rigorously analyzed every system of thought, this is a faith-based assertion, not something we’ve proved, as I’ve noted before.) Though Kerry Baldwin indicates she is Reformed in her theology, she clearly does not embrace presuppositionalism, at least not when arguing about abortion. Possibly she is like one “Reformed” woman who attended the same seminary I did. Rather than think she had to find some persuasive historical or exegetical justification for allowing women to become pastors, she was content just to say “that was then and this is now” or “times have changed,” and leave it at that. Alternatively, Baldwin may just be a disciple of R.C. Sproul, who never did hop aboard the presuppositionalist bandwagon.
All that said, here are my YouTube comments:
I found this discussion interesting, but not entirely satisfactory. For brevity, I use the term “person” rather than “rights-bearing individual” in what follows. Since I identify personhood in terms of fundamental human substance or essence, not in terms of realized capabilities or faculties, I use the word “person” to mean “human individual with all the same rights as every other human individual,” with no additional requirements. To my way of thinking “rights-bearing individual” and “person” are synonymous. That is how I use the term “person” (and “people”) here. [I belabored this point because Baldwin noted her opposition to measures like a constitutional amendment defining personhood. As you probably know, some opponents of abortion want to amend the Constitution to make explicit the reality that personhood, aka legal status as a human individual, begins at fertilization. Baldwin dismissed this idea with words to effect that we “don’t want government defining personhood.” While I now agree that government should stay out the definitions business when neutrality does not prevent it from defending the God-given rights of every human individual under its jurisdiction, I think the ongoing holocaust of abortion may make legal rectification of names a good idea in this case.]
(1) Unless you know a way to raise the murdered unborn from the dead, there is no way to apply restorative justice to the crime of abortion. Since the most-harmed party is dead, resorting to a civil tort case doesn’t seem all that helpful, either. Perhaps you only meant to apply these concepts of justice to rape and abuse, not to abortion, but such was not clear from the discussion. Jose certainly seemed to think you included abortion.
(2) If you craft laws against murdering unborn persons in a way that differs from the laws against murdering all other people, you are not providing equal protection under the law for all people.
(3) The risk of women being convicted of murdering their children when they’ve had spontaneous miscarriages is not essentially different from the risk of people in general being wrongly convicted of murders they did not commit. Therefore, it should not require special laws. If our legal system is allowed to operate as it was designed, it will be difficult to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a woman who might have miscarried actually took an abortifacient. Without proof that she filled an abortifacient prescription, purchased large doses of herbs that can cause abortion, or was seen by eyewitnesses buying abortifacients on the black market, the presumption of innocence should prevent conviction in a properly functioning legal system. One should not refuse to pass just laws against murder because one fears courts will not properly apply those laws. One needs to fix the courts, not abstain from making just laws because the courts have defects.
(4) The issue of why a woman chooses to have her child murdered by a “doctor” or to murder the child herself with drugs is a matter to be taken into account during court proceedings, particularly during sentencing. All special legal carve outs would do is continue unequal treatment of born and unborn individuals.
Thank you for your time.
A Plea To End Legal Murder of Innocents in California ^
Letter to: Governor of California, Gavin Newsom
Date: 07 July 2022
Description: My letter replacing the one provided by the American Family Association in an action campaign that is no longer active and that the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine seems not to have captured correctly. Since this letter recycles much text from a letter I sent to other addressees in June, don’t be surprised if you see it again in another post.
Subject line used: Repent: End Legal Murder of Innocents in California
For your reference, here is the AFA letter I replaced, which used the subject line “Declare June Sanctity of Life month”:
This is a time to celebrate your leadership — and victory in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade. As other governors around the county are doing, I am asking you to retroactively declare June 2022 Sanctity of Life Month for our state. Doing so would bring renewed awareness of the significance of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, reminding people that such issues are properly reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment.
You can find a sample proclamation from the governor of Mississippi, who declared the entire month of June to be Sanctity of Life Month at https://afa.net/media/656125/ms-gov-reeves-life-proclamation.pdf.
I hope you will likewise commemorate this historic month of June and join pro-life constituents in celebrating the end of Roe v. Wade.
Given that I live in the anti-life state of California, I obviously couldn’t use the sample letter from the AFA, even if I had been inclined to do so. Instead, I wrote what follows.
As states that honor the right to life of all human individuals celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade, California under your “leadership” strives to become a sanctuary for women who would murder their own children and the “doctors” who want to help them do so.
Murder, even when it is doctor-assisted, is neither a private matter nor a medical decision. Abortion is not health care; it is legalized murder and contrary to God’s moral law written on the heart of every human being and to the U.S. Constitution. That latter document requires that neither the federal government nor (per the 14th Amendment) any state government permit any person to be deprived of life without due process of law (conviction of a capital crime by a jury of his peers). “Person” means, simply, “a human individual.” (You can confirm this from dictionaries in use at the time the 14th Amendment was passed.) It is not an amorphous or unclear term anyone may define however he likes based on whom he does and does not want to kill.
Given these facts, I inform you as your constituent that you are duty-bound both legally and morally to stop all efforts to protect the “right” to murder through abortion as “women’s healthcare.” Pregnancy is not an illness and abortion is not a preserver of health. Pregnancy is a gift of God that creates new human individuals with a right to life, and abortion is the violent, wicked, depraved murder of innocents who cannot defend themselves.
Since the 14th Amendment makes defending life in every state throughout the nation a federal responsibility, the Supreme Court did not go far enough when it merely sent this issue back to the states. I lament that the Supreme Court has left authority to protect or sacrifice preborn humans with states and their voters. Since it has done so, I can only pray that God will cause you to confess and repent of your profoundly evil stance on this life-and-death issue.
Will you persist in your evil course of action until the wrath of Almighty God falls upon you? Or will you repent now and work to ensure that the life of every human individual, from conception to natural death, is protected in law both nationally and in our once great state of California? I know that, without God‘s own intervention, you and your party will do the former. I therefore pray that God will not permit you and your party to take this state still further into the abyss.
Thank you for your time.
Final thoughts ^
So ends part one of my 2022 Q3 correspondence drop. Though I was long a fairly mainstream supporter of the pro-life movement, even endorsing an exception to any future ban on abortion, I am now solidly in the camp of the abortion abolitionists. While I did not know of this movement when I first bid farewell to the pro-life movement, I trust the same Spirit has guided me as guides the leaders of the abolitionist movement. The abolitionist movement brings a moral clarity to the Christian community that the pro-life movement fails to provide. The latter movement has certainly done praiseworthy work, such as establishing crisis pregnancy centers to give better options to women who might otherwise murder their children to deal with tragic life circumstances. But its refusal to demand full equality under the law for the unborn, and its refusal to treat women with unplanned pregnancies as responsible moral agents, has degraded Americans’ ability to reason rightly about this important moral issue.
I do differ from the abolitionist leadership on one point, however. I do not believe that only those who accept the Bible’s authority can and should be abolitionists. As I noted above, I think even unbelieving moralists should consider becoming abolitionists. While its failure (after many months) to cash my check or send me the requested bumper stickers makes me think Libertarians for Life is no longer active,* an atheist or agnostic capable of understanding and embracing the arguments on that site should be able to also embrace the arguments I’ve provided above. (* Because of my suspicion, I’ve linked to an archived copy of the site. As of this writing, however, the site remains active. As well, it appears from Whois that someone is paying to keep the registration current. That shows as renewed in 2022 and due to expire in 2023.)
Thanks for reading. Be seeing you.