We recently passed the 40th anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade. Research holds that 55,772,015 known cases of abortion have taken place since then. Put differently, in this time, our country alone has aborted what would amount to the 24th largest country on the planet today. Imagine if the entire nation of Italy was eradicated. That’s equivalent to what we’ve done.
Last week I commented on how a western worldview shift into naturalism has affected our collective national ability (or unique inability) to process suffering. This week I’m suggesting that it has drastically altered our perceptions of life.
Case in point, Oxford professor and genius biologist Richard Dawkins was caught up in a Twitter controversy recently. The incident resulted from Dawkins’ encouragements to a young woman lamenting that she would have a difficult moral decision to make if she found out that she was pregnant with a Down’s Syndrome child. See Dawkins’ response:
What I do appreciate about Dawkins is his unapologetic candor and the consistency with which he presents his worldview. See, to Dawkins, a secular biologist, evolution is THE operating principle of the world. It is governed by immutable natural laws and it is credited with the progress that mankind has made over the years. While some might argue this is a trite and cliché oversimplification, it nonetheless holds that evolution operates on the premise of “survival of the fittest.” Since this is the case, it then makes no sense to bring into the world human life which would be permanently dependent on other human life. This life wouldn’t advance the cause of humanity but instead hold back the refining process of evolutionary genetic cleansing. Bluntly, a Down’s Syndrome child is not likely to make our species “fitter.” So, according to Dawkins, for the child’s sake and for the parent’s sake, that child has no place in this world. That’s a consistent naturalist viewpoint.
While I mentioned I appreciated Dawkins’ consistent viewpoint, there are some obvious errors and internal inconsistencies that come to light whenever he speaks, especially about what he perceives to be “moral.” First of all, Dawkins is less qualified to comment on what he supposes to be “immoral” than anyone, because there can be no naturalist argument made for morality. As I’ve stated before, any moral argument can only be made based on some form of an appeal to God. An evolutionist’s appeal to morality doesn’t work because, to an evolutionist, if morality exists, it’s merely a developed survival mechanism. With a naturalistic mindset, there cannot be a right and wrong, only a survive or not survive, only an improve life conditions or not. An evolutionist cannot make the argument that it’s “wrong” to bully at school or “wrong” for a more powerful people to oppress a weaker people. This is merely an advancement of the species. The strong eat the weak. Many evolutionists can and do make the case that “moral developments” are part of the evolutionary process, but that still doesn’t make an issue right or wrong, only wise or unwise. In other words, evolution could only possibly account for moral feelings, not moral obligation. What logical right would any one of us have for imposing right or wrong for another on the basis of our personal feelings.
And to be consistent, in the same way that Dawkins doesn’t have a right to push his feels of morality, I don’t have a right to push my personal feelings of morality on him. If that’s our attempt to overturn abortion, I don’t see that ever standing much of a chance. It hasn’t thus far.
Furthermore, when Dawkins is discussing “morality” he’s really only talking about his personal logic. Since his highest goal is the advancement of the species, he deems it inappropriate (i.e. “immoral”) to do anything that might hinder human advancement. Understand though, in regard to every other law we have in society regarding the definitions and standards of the protection of human life, there is nothing illogical about thinking abortion to be a heinous crime. Quite the opposite.
So, for instance, if scientists discovered in outer space the exact same cluster of cells that exist in a pregnant woman in her first term, what would they conclude? Would they say, “We’ve found a zygote on Mars!” Of course not. They would make no reference to a zygote or a fetus or an embryo or any other number of words that 100 years ago would have readily been challenged in a game of Scrabble. No, at such a discovery they would proudly herald, “We’ve found LIFE on Mars!” Why the difference? I’d suggest that Satan’s main means of spiritual deception has historically been to distort words (Gen. 3:1-5; Matt. 4:1-11).
“Well,” someone says, “but that organic matter inside a woman doesn’t prove that it is FULLY a human.” Again, based on the Bible, I’m convinced that it is (Psalm 139:13, 16; Psalm 51:5; Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:41, 44). But, let’s just say we don’t know. In a case where there is uncertainty about human life, doesn’t it make the most sense to err on the side of caution? For instance, hunting season is a big deal here in the Midwest. Let’s say a hunter goes out on opening day, sees a rustling in the leaves and that’s the best look he can get. He’s 50/50 certain it’s a deer. Should he pull the trigger? If that rustling is, in fact, just a neighbor kid playing in the woods, should he not be prosecuted if he kills the kid? If he says, “Well, I wasn’t trying to kill a CHILD,” or “My friend standing next to me who knows a lot about hunting said he was pretty sure it was a deer,” does that let him off the hook entirely?
My point is that abortion doesn’t even make consistent sense with our own self-imposed social definitions and standards for the protection of human life.
All that said, impassioned speeches and coherent logical arguments against abortion, while undeniably well-intentioned, haven’t seemed to move the needle too much over the past 40 years.
I’m convinced this is not primarily an ignorance issue (which could be solved through education) or a philosophical issue (which could be solved through debate). This is primarily a heart issue. According to St. Augustine and Martin Luther, sin is basically the human heart “incurvatus in se” (“turned in upon itself”). In other words, sin means I care more about my feelings and my logic than God’s feelings and God’s logic.
Generally speaking, the research on why abortions take place seems to bare this out. For all of the discussion about extreme hypotheticals (e.g. abortions in the case of rape or incest), almost no abortions appear to take place for these reasons. They seem to primarily take place because attachment to this little life would be personally inconvenient to me. Put differently, my heart is turned inward upon my wants, feelings, and logic, not upon God or this child. This is a heart problem.
According to the Bible, there is only one tool for remedying sick hearts – the healing power of the gospel of Jesus.
Jesus was the Father’s Son from eternity past. They were inseparable, connected by a cord of intimate love and service. To pay for my selfishness, God suffered the unthinkable – the Father lost his Son and the Son lost his Father. On his cross, Jesus, the ULTIMATE innocent life was cut off. And we heard the cries of a murdered Son, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Seen for what it is, this is as heart-wrenching and stomach turning as any horrific story or imagery you’ll find online when it comes to the destruction of a vulnerable child.
But why? Why would God voluntarily do such a thing for us?
The Bible says it was so all of our mistakes might somehow be washed away. So that all the life we’ve hurt might somehow be put back together. So that all of our sin might somehow become undone. So that death might somehow become life.
Three days later, that same Son was raised and he proceeded to repeatedly tell his friends and family that they were forgiven and that he desired “Peace (to) be with you” (Luke 24:36; John 20:21, 26).
What can change the nation’s heart about abortion? The grace of Jesus. The Ultimate Innocent Life loved us enough to be prematurely taken so that we, the offenders, would be pardoned of murder. When we clearly see that injustice, we’ll start to see this one too.