What Does Reason Have to Do With It?


I was “pro-choice” in my youth, having been raised in the temple of leftism:  the university, public education and modern culture.  The older I got, the more I tried to justify in my mind why my position was right.  I could not find any measure of truth that could be supported by reason, science or philosophy for the “pro-choice” side.  So, I was left with the question – what am I doing here?  The answer was obvious, I had to change to the side that had reason, science and philosophy right:  The pro-life side.

Last month I attended a speech by a Jesuit Priest, Fr. Robert J. Spitzer,  at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  Fr. Spitzer talked about his new book, Ten Universal Principles; A brief Philosophy of the Life Issues.  The book makes all the rational, logical and reasonable arguments for the truth of the pro-life argument.  His ten principles are sub-divided into four sub-headings:  The Principles of Reason, the Principles of Ethics, the Principles of Natural Rights and the Fundamental Principle of Identity and Culture.  In this piece I will review the first one – the Principles of Reason, which is subdivided into three principles:  (1) The Principle of Complete Explanation, (2) The Principle of Non-contradiction, and (3) The Principle of Objective Evidence.  

When I was struggling with my “pro-choice” position, I wanted to prove that my side had truth in it.  I looked and could not find any truth in it.  What is the test of whether a position is right or wrong?  Is it true?  The Principle of Reason answers this question. In today’s moral relativistic culture, truth is relative.  You have your truth and I have mine, as the saying goes.  When you look at this position you immediately notice something very glaring.  If truth is relative, then there can be no truth.  Truth then becomes subjective – whatever you define as truth.  Spitzer mentions an example.  “Year after year, I begin with the simple question that originates with Plato, namely, How many of you believe that all opinions have validity and should be respected?  Spitzer goes on to point out that most of the students raise their hands.  After asking them if the opinions of Hitler, Stalin and others should also be respected, people start to back off.

Spitzer proposes three methods for ascertaining the validity of an opinion: The quantity of the evidence, the logical consistency of arguments and the quality of the evidence.  The first he calls the Principle of Complete Explanation.  “The general principle is this:  opinions that explain the most data and are verified by the most evidence are better than those that do not.”  He gives examples of Einstein’s theory vs Newton’s theory.  Einstein’s theory proved to be the best one because it explained more that Newton’s theory.  Spitzer goes on to put human personhood to this test.  The denial of human personhood as the “pro-choice” side has done has served to devalue unborn life.  Once life is devalued then it can be discarded at will.  Slavery denied human personhood.  Even the US Supreme Court agreed that slaves were not fully human, as it did in the Dred Scott decision of 1857.  The Roe vs. Wade decision affirmed that the unborn were not human also. The decision further stated that “we don’t know when life begins.”  Once you accept this proposition, the denial of human personhood, there are serious consequences.  One of the most obvious is that you can justify to yourself and to others that if a pregnancy is inconvenient then you can just abort the baby and everything is cool.  You’ve just killed a human being but you’ve rationalized it in your mind because, after all, that baby was not yet a person.  Spitzer puts it this way:  “If humans are viewed as mere things, then they can be treated as mere things, and this assumption had led historically to every form of human tragedy.”  On average, 1.3 million babies are killed in the United States alone and it goes unnoticed by the general public.

The second, the Principle of Non-contradiction is similar.  The principle basically states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time.  According to the Ten Principles the classical formulation is this:  “A real being cannot both be and not be the same thing, in the same respect, at the same time.”  The first thing that comes to mind when I read this is what some typical Catholic “pro-choice” politicians usually say to defend their position.  Vice President Joe Biden provides a classic explanation.  Click here to listen to his explanation.  This is bizarre explanation that defies reason and logic.  He claims to believe that life begins at conception, which necessarily means that a human being begins at conception.  He follows it up by saying that since others disagree, they can choose to kill and unborn if they want. Is this logical?  Hardly.  This is akin to saying, I believe that slavery is wrong, but since others believe differently, they can choose to have a slave if they want to, after all, who am I to force my belief on them.  Would a politician go far today if he argued this way?  Spitzer goes on to point out other contradictions.  “For example, some courts say that human embryos have right of inheritance and can sue after birth for pre-birth injuries (meaning that human embryos are persons with rights), while other courts declare that human embryos are not persons and do not have even the right to life.”

The third principle is The Principle of Objective Evidence:  “Non-arbitrary opinions or theories are based upon publicly verifiable evidence.”  This is the question that kept nagging at me when I was “pro-choice.”  Where can I get evidence that is universally verifiable that proves that an unborn is not a human?  Ask any “pro-choice” person what he/she bases his/her position on and see what answer you get.  As Spitzer clearly states on page 16 of his book “We cannot simply assert something as a matter of our subjective opinion (that is, an opinion that we claim to be true just because we felt or believed that it was so).”  Many believe that science is the only truth (this is referred to as scientism), yet even those that do will fail to look at science on this subject.  It is a scientific fact that a human life begins at conception.  Look at any embryology book.  Yet the “pro-choice” side conveniently ignores this fact all the time.  They will go to “privacy,”  “a woman’s right to choose” or other nonsense.  What do these terms mean?  They mean only what these people want it to mean.  This is not the Principle of Objective Evidence by any measure.  In other words, the “pro-choice” side has no facts to back up their claim.

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