What is Truth?

In today’s Easter Gospel we read the account of Jesus before Pilate in John 18 – 19.  Pilate asks Jesus “what is truth”?  In today’s deeply divided culture we seem to have our own truth.  The left has its truth and the right theirs.  A couple of examples: 1) In the recent Congressional investigation of Russian collusion, it was discovered that the FBI may have abused the FISA Court in getting a warrant to monitor an American citizen, Carter Page.  The Republicans came out with a scathing report of such abuses.  The Democrats, on the other hand totally denied that there was any impropriety and came out with their own version of events; two different “truths.”  This is a contradiction.  You cannot have two different versions of an event and both be true.  Either one is true or the other false. 2) The other example is the situation with the Planned Parenthood (PP) tapes that showed  PP selling aborted baby parts.  The videos told one story, but there was another story by the supporters of PP and PP itself.  Click here to see some of these videos.

Recently I posted something on my Facebook page regarding Planned Parenthood and how it was exposed by these videos and someone responded with an ad hominem attack stating that the videos had been “heavily edited” and “doctored.”  Here is where we run into a logic problem.   In the book, Ten Universal Principles by Robert Spitzer, he discusses ten universal principles that are universally accepted such as The Principle of Noncontradiction, The Principle of Objective Evidence and so on.

When we argue about facts, we cannot simply assert something as a matter of subjective opinion in order to be true, this would be merely subjective verification and therefore, it could not be used to prove something to somebody else, Spitzer writes in page 16.  Additionally, something like what the person told me about the “doctored” videos earlier is simply arbitrarily asserted.  What is arbitrarily asserted without evidence can be arbitrarily denied without evidence.  So the person making the assertion about the videos being “doctored” has no proof or evidence to support claim; only an arbitray assertion.

What is so disturbing today is that reason, logic and philosophy are not even considered in our debates about what is truth as Pilate asked Jesus.  I see this especially true on the left of the political spectrum.  They never ask, is it true? or is there any evidence?  They only make statements arbitrarily.  This will not pass the reason or the logic test.  In the Planned Parenthood videos mentioned here, we heard Planned Parenthood and their supporters on the left yell and scream that the videos were not true, but all they pointed to was their own subjective opinon, no facts and no evidence.  So, what is truth?  Well, according to some, it’s whatever they say it is.

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The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

Last November, my wife and I visited Israel on a tour called “In the Footsteps of Jesus.” One of the places we visited was Caesarea Phillipi, in northern Israel, near the Syrian border, and the ancient city of Dan.  Pagan worship took place in Caesarea Phillipi, and specifically, the worship of Pan, the pagan god. As you can see from the photo to the left, this place has a huge cave.  This cave represented the entry into Hades, or hell. Before going to the cross Jesus brought his disciples to this place and put some pointed questions to them.  No doubt, this place was significant since it represented a place of pagan worship.  Jesus asked his disciples “who do they say that I am?” One of the disciples answered:  “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  Then Jesus asked, but who do YOU say that I am? Peter answered “you are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

Jesus told Peter that He would build his church upon “this rock,” meaning Peter, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

In today’s culture we have an ongoing holocaust called abortion.  Since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion, over 60 million unborn human beings have been killed, and our culture calls it “women’s health,” or “choice.”  We have replaced the dignity of human life with a worship of language that has a meaning that we give it, irregardless of what the true meaning of the these words actually represent; in this case, “choice” really represents the killing of an innocent human life.  This is not an opinion.  Science has proven that life begins at conception.  Look at any Embryology book and it will define the beginning of life at conception.  No matter what we call it, we cannot mask its true meaning.

Since 1973, pro-life advocates have railed against abortion.  This has been like swimming up Niagara Falls.  Our culture, our judges and our political elites form an impenetrable barrier against us.  In 2004 a couple of young men started, what became known as 40 Days for Life, Forty days of praying outside of an abortion clinic in College Station, Texas.  This resulted in the conversion, against all odds, of the director of the clinic, Abby Johnson, to the pro-life cause; she left Planned Parenthood.  She later wrote a best-selling book called “Un Planned.”  Since then many other abortion clinic workers have switched sides. Click here to go to the  40 Days for Life web site where you can get more information.

The success of 40 Days for Life has been heart warming.  Hundreds of cities in the United States and many other cities outside the United States have 40 Days for Life campaigns.  Click here for a short video which gives a synopsis of what it is all about.

In the South Bay area of Los Angeles County and Lawndale specifically, a 40 Days for Life campaign will start on February 14, 2018 through March 25, 2018. Click here for the web page for this site with more information.  All are invited to attend.  You can choose your own time.

The Rush to Death

Five US  states, Colorado, California, Washington, Vermont and Oregon have legal assisted suicide laws.  Many more states are considering it and it looks like it will follow the same rush toward same-sex marriage.  For purpose of this post, let’s not argue the moral side of this; let’s argue about the slippery slope argument.  This law, whether you agree with it or not is like letting the horse out of the barn; once you do it, you can’t take it back.

If you look into what has happened in other countries where this law has been on the books for a long time, Belgium, and Holland for instance, you see how far the slippery slope has gotten.  Check out this article about the sad state of affairs in Holland and Belgium.  Now the slippery slope in Belgium has evolved to killing people, even without their consent.  Click here for this story.

The other slippery slope is who is in control?  Turns out, no one.  People can be killed even without their knowledge and there is no one watching.  “Safeguards”  that were put in place when these laws were passed are either ignored or are not monitored at all.  Click here for some facts.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today  by J.J. Hanson, called “I Want My Doctors to Help Me Live, Not Die” Hanson states that in a 2006 Oregon study 25% of patients requesting assisted suicide were depressed and several of them went on to receive the lethal medication. The rush is on.

Shedding of Innocent Blood vs Guilty Blood

In California, last year, we had a petition drive at our church to abolish the death penalty in the state.  The people pushing this petition were those of whom I would refer as the “social justice” crowd.  These people, to a large extent, are very anti-death penalty but when it comes to abortion, they don’t even blink, or totally ignore it.  They are also on the very liberal side and vote for liberal or progressive politicians who are very pro-abortion.  This week the state of Arkansas executed two inmates on death row; for the first time in 12 years. As a pro-life person, it is always puzzling to reconcile this situation.  How can someone be against the death penalty and yet ignore abortion.  Let’s look at the statistics.  As of 2014 there have been over 57 million abortions since 1973 in the United States, that’s roughly 1.3 million per year average.  Since 1976 there have been 1,300 executions of death row inmates in the entire United States.

Death row inmates are guilty persons who have committed crimes against humanity and have been adjudicated by a court to be guilty and have been so condemned.  The unborn, on the other hand, are totally innocent and have been killed, not by a court, but by a mother who does not wish to have a baby for reasons such as “I’m not ready to be a mother,” or “it’s too inconvenient and it will interfere with my career.”  The unborn are fully human, as confirmed by science.  Click here for confirmation.    Have you seen drawings or pictures of how unborn children are ripped apart inside the mother?  Abortion doctors count all the limbs after an abortion to make sure they got the entire baby.  In the famous case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, he even killed babies who came out whole in a botched abortion attempt.  The book, Gosnell, details what happened in excruciating details; you must read it to believe it.

The Bible is very specific when it come to shedding innocent blood:  Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

 

Fetal Tissue Research and Defunding Planned Parenthood

With the new Trump administration there is a push to defund Planned Parenthood (PP).  This is now a hot issue.  An article in Forbes Magazine by Matthew Herper, dated August 12, 2015, titled The New England Journal of Medicine Fact-Checks the Republican Debate, the journal’s editors attack the pro-life Republican platform and especially the defunding of PP.   The article points out that the NEJM is a noted leftist organization: “its not news that the New England Journal tends to be left-leaning.”  This article and the piece below by Alta Charo are worth reading because they discuss important issues which are easily misunderstood by the general population and need a vigorous debate.

The opinion piece by Alta Charo, titled Fetal Tissue Fallout, makes some important points that need to be discussed and debated.  Charo argues that it is morally wrong to oppose fetal tissue research because, she claims, it does not increase abortions, and it provides massive dividends that save lives. Charo is a lawyer and a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin, according to the Herper article.  I wonder why a lawyer is writing an editorial in a medical journal. Could it be that the best doctors are embarrassed to do it, or perhaps they could not find one to do it? Just asking!

I agree, there is a strong argument to be made for fetal tissue research, however, the killing of an innocent human being is never moral under any circumstances.  This is a first order issue.  What is legal is not always moral; abortion is one such example. My argument is not against fetal tissue research, it’s against the killing of an innocent human being.  Fetal tissue research is not a hot button issue with the pro-life cause; I don’t know anyone who opposes it.  Has any Republican made any statement against fetal tissue research?  I’ve never heard one yet.  What we oppose is the killing of an innocent human life, not fetal tissue research.  Let’s look at it this way.  Let’s say I’m a scientist and you have a condition that may lead me to discover a cure for a certain disease, but in order for me to get what I must have for my research, I need to kill you first and then rummage through your cadaver for my research.  Would this be acceptable? Let’s further say that I find a cure for a certain condition, would this, then, lead us to conclude we can kill living human beings in order to find cures?  When we treat human life as disposable, we lose any sense of human dignity; we’re no different from animals.

Another question is whether fetal tissue can only be obtained from aborted babies. How many fetuses die in birth, or soon thereafter or from accidents.  How about still-born babies?  In the United States there are 25,000 babies  still-born per year; nearly 68 per day.  Are aborted babies the only way to get fetal tissue? Charo’s argument fails completely. As for using aborted babies for fetal tissue research, I agree there is an argument to be made, but I will leave this specific issue for another time.  Let ‘s continue with some of her other claims:

Charo argues that fetal research is not only a right but a duty.  The article blasts those who oppose fetal tissue research.  “Morality and conscience have been cited to justify not only health care professionals’ refusal to provide certain legal medical services to their patients but even obstruction of others’ fulfillment of that duty.  She does not say it, but I assume from her tone here that she puts all abortion opponents in the same basket as opponents of fetal tissue research.  Charo makes the claim that fetal research “will in no way actually affect the number of fetuses that are aborted or brought to term.”  She provides no proof or back-up for this claim.  How does she know this?  A claim such as this violates the Universal Principle of Reason. According to this principle, anything arbitrarily asserted without evidence can be arbitrarily denied without evidence.* In addition, what difference does it make whether it affects the number of abortions or not? So what? This does not support her argument.

Charo’s article blasts the researcher who exposed the sale of fetal body parts from aborted babies by PP.  She makes this statement: “The current uproar was invited when an antiabortion activist, posing as a biomedical research company representative, captured on video – which he then edited in the most misleading way possible – discussions by Planned Parenthood physicians.”  Here we go again.  How does Charo justify making this statement?  Another arbitrary  asserted claim. How does editing the video affect the content or make it misleading?  She provides no examples.  Were the people on the video fed what they said as in a movie script? There was probably dozens of hours of video, of course it had to be edited.  How does the editing change what we see PP executives saying?  Here is one of these videos, how does editing change what you see and hear in it?  A claim arbitrarily made and arbitrarily deniable.

I could not get past page one without encountering so many subjective allegations without any evidence. The bottom paragraph of page one says this: “Planned Parenthood services – more than 95% of which involve such things as contraception and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, rather than abortion.”  This is a very misleading statistic.  How did they calculate it?  When I took statistics in college the instructor had a saying, “statistics don’t lie but liars can figure.”  Here are some facts: Planned Parenthood does 30% of the nation’s abortions – over 320,000 per year.  They receive over $500 million in tax payer funds from the government each year.  Planned Parenthood claims that only 3% of their services are for abortions. Click here for an article debunking this.  In addition, the Washington Post, no conservative newspaper, added another piece debunking this 3% myth.  Click here for the article.

*Ten Universal Principles; A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues, Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D, Ignatius Press, 2011, pp 7&16:

They Did What Was Right in Their Own Eyes

Abortion was  a more prominent topic in our recent Presidential election.  In the third debate the question of “partial birth abortion” was discussed between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Trump decried how a baby could be aborted just before birth, while Clinton praised a “woman’s choice.”  She did not defend her position favoring this procedure. Click here for more details on this.

In the election of 2008 my friend told me the story of how his neighbor, a fellow Catholic from his church, could support John Kerry  who was fiercely pro abortion.  His neighbor’s response was “there are many other issues.”  This response is very typical of liberal Catholics and Christians of all faiths who favor abortion.  Indeed, to my estimation, at least 50% of my fellow Catholics at my church favor abortion at any stage, contrary to what the Catholic Church emphatically teaches.

When it comes to elections, pro-life citizens of which I am one, believe that anyone who favors abortion is automatically disqualified for any elective position in our country.  Let me give an example:  Let’s say that there is a candidate who has all the positions that you hold, as well as your world view, and he/she would be ideal for the position, but this person favors the killing of babies even after they’re born, as Peter Singer does, the famous Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University.  Singer says that a baby is unaware of its own existence and therefore can be killed upon the decision of the parents within the first couple of months after birth.  Would you still vote for this person? How about a person who has all of your world view but favors the enslavement of a certain ethnic group, such as was the case prior to the Civil War?  Would this person not be disqualified for elective office?

Catholics will often tell you that they rely on their conscience to make moral decisions and they will further argue that this is supported by the Catholic Church.  Well, they’re partly right.  The Catholic Church does allow for conscience in some instances, but it must be an informed conscience, not just whatever your conscience tells you at any moment.  The Church, in no uncertain terms, condemns abortion. The Church further states that cooperation with abortion is a grave sin, meaning that if you vote for a pro-abortion politician, you are cooperating with abortion.  So if the Church emphatically states that abortion is evil and the killing of a human being, your conscience cannot overrule this. This is not an informed conscience.  If your conscience could overrule this, then why do you need a church to guide your morality, or the Bible for that matter.  All you would need is your conscience.

In the book of Judges in the Bible, the Israelites had fallen completely away from God and had given in to immorality.  By the time of the last judge of Israel, Samson, they had fallen so far from God that verse 6 of Judges 17 states: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.  To support abortion or to cooperate in abortion by voting for a person who does is doing what is right in your own eye.

The Vestibule of Hell

In my Bible study class today, our teacher, Dr. Bill Creasy, was teaching on the Gospel of John and on Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate.   Pilate tried very hard to save Jesus but he got no cooperation from him.  In the end Pilate gave in to the mob, refused to do the right thing and gave him up to be crucified.   The question often is asked:  what happened to Pilate later?  Dante’s Devine Comedy, Canto 3:49-60 has a helpful hint; as summarized by Creasy:

In the Divine Comedy, Dante places Pontius Pilate not in Hell proper, but in the vestibule of Hell. Rejected by God and not accepted by Satan, he is among those who are “nowhere,” those cowardly souls who refused to make a choice in life or to stand up for what is right.

I could not help but think of those of us who are too cowardly to make the right decision when it comes to the killing of the unborn babies.  Specifically, Vice President Biden, comes to mind when he made the statement that he believes what the Catholic Church believes that life begins at conception but he is not going to “impose his faith on others,” or words to this effect. Click here for verification of this.  This position strikes me as the same as what Pilate did:  In the face of truth, cowardice takes over.

I cannot help but think what will Joe Biden do when he’s face to face with our eternal judge and is asked the same question.  Will he give the same answer?  Joe is not alone in this he has many others who believe as he does.