I wrote this post, as a ‘purely philosophical’ argument for being Pro-Life. As you may know, the title of this essay series is ‘Between Athens and Jerusalem’ and it is taken from a comments by a Church Father, Tertullian – who famously asked “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” His query was essentially asking – what is the role of Philosophy in the defense of the Christian Faith. You can read more about his own thoughts on that here (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2008/02/what-has-athens-to-do-with-jerusalem.html).

The purpose of this series, however, is to make purely philosophical defenses for Judeo-Christian subjects, without appealing to otherwise canonical (Biblical) authority. In this case – the subject is being ‘Pro-life’

This essay is from a response to a friend of mine on Facebook, Bob Bolt. The discussion can be found here (https://www.facebook.com/matthew.b.lipscomb/posts/10151667051829933).

Bob wrote:

Of course the Pakistani fundamentalists killed the vaccination aid workers using the pretext of some perversion of Koranic law (as well as evidence of the bogus immunization to get DNA samples from bin Laden’s kin). Irrational people see the world in terms of black and white. It’s not unlike the Christians in this country who oppose Planned Parenthood for their advocacy of choice and as a consequence deprive poor women of a host of essential non-controversial health services.

My response was as follows…

I respect (and value) your opinion, however – I do believe that comparing Evangelical Christians like myself to the Taliban is a bit of a stretch. I understand that these are very complex and deeply personal issues, which all of us believe in very passionately…allow me to explain why I feel like I must be Pro-Life.

It is true that I am a Conservative (& Pentecostal;) Evangelical Christian, and it is also true that I have done my best to live a life that would well reflect that {BTW, as an example, you can tell your friends that you know ‘the 40 year old virgin, lol) but when it came to this issue, I made an attempt to not just go at it ‘from a scriptural standpoint’ but to allow myself to explore it from a ‘socio-philosophical’ dimension as well. I tried to do an honest ‘foray’ – I tried to not let one presupposition/worldview interfere with the other.

When I first started taking Philosophy seriously – I cut my teeth on Kierkegaard, and then moved on to his nemesis, Hegel. Technically speaking, I am a ‘right’ Hegelian – but I am also a ‘soft’ one; insofar as I don’t think ‘the system’ is comprehensive and airtight – I think that Kierkegaard had some good criticisms of it. I said all that to say that, as a Christian I believe in the Holy Ghost (Heiliger Geist) but as a Hegelian, I also believe in the ‘World Spirit” (Weltgeist), or, in other words, an ‘essence of truth’ that exists, which both pervades and manifests itself, progressively, through the unfolding of history.

What this means is that I believe that you can look at past history, and you can see a form of reason, or (to borrow from Christianesque language/rhetoric) you can see ‘Capital T’ Truth manifesting itself throughout history; you come to see a vibrancy, or depth to what would be considered Reason, or perhaps, you see a reality disclosing itself to the historical observer, which in prior times might have been reasonably argued to ‘be an opinion’ – the weight of history, leans in and shows that there is a fabric, a contour, a fingerprint of a truth that can be taken as more of a foundation, and less of a mere ideological preference.

…..At a given time, in American History, early colonists sent small-pox infested blankets to the Indians – and they reasoned that this was alowable, because the Indians were not really people – they were ‘Savages’/primitive men. First we dehumanized them, then we stole from them and killed them. I hope that I would have opposed this; I probably would have been hung.

…At a given time, in American History, we built an entire economy out of the subjugation and monetization of people from Africa. First we dehumanized them (they are not people, they are primitive men [like the Indians]) then we sold them -and killed them when it pleased us. I hope that I would have opposed this; I probably would have been shot.

….At a given time, in German History, Nazis built an entire political party upon the demonization of Jews, and any and all non-Aryans. We, in America, also embraced Eugenics – through, at least yet, we had not followed it through to its political conclusion. The Germans dehumanized them (they called them Untermensch [‘undermen’/subhuman]) and then they stole, tortured, and killed them. I hope that I would have opposed this; I probably would have been gassed.

It is a pattern that I see throughout history. Dehumanize. Steal from. Kill. The Dehumanization is the first step, but it is itself brought on by an initial state: and that state is one of “Inconvenience”. When someone, or in these cases, a group become ‘inconvenient’ they are then dehumanized, and then, once they are adequately dehumanized – they are stolen from and ultimately disposed off.

The problem is – there is *always* tremendous passion behind the arguments for doing this – and there is always a catch-word that seems to legitimize it. For the Indians it was “Manifest Destiny,” for the Blacks, it was “State’s Rights” – and for the Nazis “Eugenics,” “Darwinism” or “National Socialism”

At the end of the day – it is all rhetoric; it is all powerful argumentation – but how do our passions square with history – and what we might consider to be a revealed-by-history “Truth”?

Does history bear the legitimate dehumanization of anybody? Ever? Anywhere? I would argue that it does not – nor can it ever.

So I chose not to. Either.
I am just glad to live in a country, were I won’t be hung, shot, or gassed – for saying “no I will not dehumanize in the name of convenience – ever.” And yes, I know that its kind of a black and white thing – but I think that history shows it to be.

(thanks for letting me share – open to your thoughts on this)