Abortion and Other Evils

That Time JK! Studios Decided to Mock Catholicism

Yes… I am doing this. Believe it or not, I used to like these people—back when they were actually funny… once upon a time. 

Studio C is an American sketch comedy television show created by Matt Meese and Jared Shores, produced by Brigham Young University Television or BYU TV, and it was good, in my opinion, for the most part—although with later seasons as the budget apparently got better the sketches became less funny and more terrifying in my opinion and more alike to a horror movie. It was a Latter-day Saint family production and therefore tried harder than most to actually keep clean and appropriate comedy. Most notably they did not even do things that are allowed in children’s programs nowadays, such as propagate taking the Lord’s name in vain or fake marriage and whatnot. Now between 2012 and 2019, there were roughly ten major actors. Then, however, the old actors left, being replaced by new ones, and they founded JK Studios and alleges itself to also be “family”. I did not love it as much. Some of their longer episodes felt too dry and pointless, and I don’t think sketch comedy works well in longer form without something more serious to balance it out, but I still enjoyed a few I found rather comical, notably one entitled Who Is Undercover? There are others, nevertheless, which I did not particularly like or made me uncomfortable, notably Angels Designing Humans. I do not know the precise Latter-day Saint view on the subject, but it seemed to be making a joke about the alleged uselessness of aspects of the body, making it seem to me rather irreverent when one considers that God’s design was wise, and I rather imagine many Latter-day Saints would agree with me on his subject.

And then they made “Emma Stone Tinder Match”…

Please do not click on this… I would hate to give it more views.

It has the same problem with being too dry that I have with most episodes of JK! Studios, and that most of the jokes not landing as well as the jokes in Studio C did. More importantly, this sketch also speaks borderline blasphemy.

The sketch begins with three people, Matt, Natalie, and Stacey sitting in a room together. Matt is on his phone, and Natalie remarks that he is on Tinder which surprises her because she thought he was dating someone called Jessica. Matt responds that she “dumped” him, so he is “rebound swiping” (no, I have no idea what that means). Then suddenly Matt is shocked because he just matched with Emma Stone (another person with whom I am not familiar, but I think she is some actress or something). Stacey and Natalie both seem skeptical, however, and Stacey remarks that it is a fake profile. Then Stacey reads Stone’s Twitter and sees that she just tweeted “I just matched with a guy who looks like Captain America before he takes the serum” and everyone is shocked because that could only mean Matt. The recurring joke that Matt is extremely weak definitely gets old for me, especially here when it feels more like roasting, but… we will move on because it has yet to get horrible. Then everyone freaks out and jumps around while drums are playing because they think it is impossible and the mail-lady climbs in to say she is living beneath her potential and should be dating someone called “Shakeil O’Neil” or someone (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly), if Matt (who apparently orders “male Spanx”) can land a date with Emma Stone which made little sense to me. Yes, it is improbable in general that someone could get a date with a celebrity, but the whole thing seemed to me just like they were bullying Matt for allegedly being lame. A lot of comedy writers seem assume that friends being mean to each other is automatically funny, when it is not.  The jokes about Matt being lame were in Studio C, but typically they gave reasons why the character he was playing was incompetent and it did not feel like a shade on the actor as it does here. More often, there were just jokes about him being physically weak, which as far as I know, may be true without saying anything bad about his character. Matt’s father then shows up (whom Matt hasn’t seen in ten years) and he says he is proud to call him his son. Matt sends him away. I have no idea how he got in in the first place because they are still in a house already and he does not even have the decency to come through the window as the first lady did. I know it is a sketch comedy, but seeing as no one comments on it and the sketch never makes it clear that it is aware of this, I can only call it a gaping plot hole. Stacey then remarks that he is gay but if he were to match with Emma Stone, he could not say no. To this, Matt remarks “You’re gay?”, but Stacey exclaims that this is not about him. I have problems with this exchange, to which I will get in a moment. Matt’s alleged “friends” then start questioning whether Emma Stone is ill in some way (once again, people bullying a so-called friend is not necessarily funny). Then Matt exclaims that Stone sent a message that says “hi” and people start screaming again (also, the mail-lady is there again because why not?) The mail-lady remarks that the tabloids are going to eat up that “Emma Stone dates average man”, to which Natalie corrects her to “below average”. Again, this is not fun. I am just confused why everyone is bullying Matt. Matt doesn’t have a chance to respond because a priest comes to the door, saying he was sent by the Vatican on account of an alleged miracle. When the priest learns that Matt matched with Emma Stone on Tinder with “a face like that”, he decides it has proved God’s existence (other than the extreme lack of realism here… no one has remarked how people have been getting into their house). Matt gets concerned and decides he has to call off the date (rather than remarking either on the now three random intrusions into his house or that all his friends are awful), and everyone freaks out and tries to take his phone away. The priest just reaches out his hand as if he is trying to Force-pull it out of his hand (for goodness sake, Catholics are not Jedi!), and Matt’s father pops in through the window to grab the phone as well (so now he has to use the window to get in), but Matt manages to click “not interested”. Once again, I am not laughing. I just feel sorry for him to have such terrible friends who used reverse psychology, willingly or not, to get him to do this.

Then… this is when it happens—the most terrible, horrible, disgusting, abhorrent, abominable thing happens, perhaps in all the history of Studio C and JK! Studios combined. The priest announces that he matched with Emma Stone on Tinder, in spite of the fact that he does not have Tinder somehow. Then he immediately tears off his collar, kneels down, and says “Thank you” as the room brightens and heavenly music plays. One might think he is talking to God, but considering the context, I am inclined to believe the priest is speaking to the Enemy.

Before I should address the elephant in the room, I should probably mention the line about being gay. Stacey Harkey, the actor in the sketch comedy, is actually gay. He revealed this in a 2018 facebook post, about a year before this sketch I find so blasphemous came out. And that is fair. In his post, he said that he was doing this to encourage others with same-sex attraction because “many people are living quiet lives afraid and unsure of themselves and I’m coming out for them”. Apparently, LGBT teens have the highest suicide rate in Utah of any state and I do not mean to undervalue their suffering. We are all broken, and yes, it is hard, I imagine, to have same-sex attraction, such as I will probably never fully understand. However… that said, although in some ways I cannot fully disapprove of his motives in posting this, I still cannot help but think that Mr. Harkey is shying away from the idea that this is a problem and not how it is meant to be. The one paragraph in his Facebook post that made me very uncomfortable was this one:

“A little while back I found myself at an ultimate low, praying and begging God for answers, pleading for direction and guidance. In that moment I felt so much peace and love. I instantly felt like this part of myself that I’ve grown to demonize is an integral part of who I am. This part of myself that I’ve spent my whole life fighting isn’t my enemy. This part of myself that I’ve shoved into a dark dungeon deserves light. It was the sweetest feeling and it taught me that God expects me to be who he made me to be and expects me to develop myself and magnify who I am.”

Now, I understand the feeling, when dealing with temptation, of sometimes feeling overwhelmed and begging God for answers. Nevertheless, where I disagree is calling same-sex attraction “an integral part of who I am” and I suspect an orthodox Latter-day Saint would probably agree with me. It is a disorder. No, disorders do not necessarily make you a bad person. I used to have a friend with Down syndrome. He has a disorder. He is slower than the average person, intellectually speaking, but he is no less a beloved child of God. Still, the line God expects me to be who he made me implies that God intended him to be gay rather than seeing it as an unfortunate side-effect of the downfall of man.

Now, I do not mean to get too far into the personal side of Mr. Harkey’s life as I am sure it was difficult for him to admit he had same-sex attraction in the first place. Also, as far as I know, he is unmarried, so perhaps, at least for the present, he is living a chaste life.

However, I do mean to address the line, “I’m gay, but if Emma Stone asked me out, I couldn’t say no!” First of all, I do not think this should be placed in a family program, at least in the modern era where homosexuality is being normalized. Yes, it is fair to tell people that you have struggled with the same things that others have in order to give encouragement. However, I am doubtful whether it is fair to throw it into a family-friendly sketch comedy so carelessly. Also, the word “gay” often implies a willingness to act upon the same-sex desires rather than seeing it as a mental illness which is not as people are supposed to be (although, like with any other mental illness, those who have it must have our compassion). 

But believe it or not, that is not the part that offended me the most. Obviously, the part of the priest—of all things, did you have to insult priestly celibacy? I know and I understand the understanding of marriage is different among Latter-day Saints (if a Latter-day Saint would consider these people orthodox), but why just casually mock the way of life among priests. They have 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.” Again, various people who accept the Bible have different interpretations than I. Priests, brothers, and nuns do not marry because for several reasons, one being that in that way they can concern themselves more with God. But they do not believe it, and that is all well and good or at least, do not allow me to get in the way of it. I will not mock things considered sacred by the Latter-day Saints such as temple garments and the like, even if I disagree with them. All I ask is that they do me the same favor and not mock the things that we as Catholics find sacred, among these holy celibacy.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Chivalric Apologist

Abortion and Other Evils On Catholics

Celebrate the Month!

Hello! It is June, which, according to the Catholic liturgical calendar, is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which symbolizes our Blessed Lord’s love for humanity. As we know, Jesus Christ has a human heart by virtue of becoming man. The Sacred Heart of Jesus denotes the entire mystery of Christ Jesus, as the Son of God and the cause of our salvation.

Our Lord gave these twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to those who devote themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Have mercy on us!

P.S.: Why—were you expecting something else?

On Debating

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance and stupidity.

A variant of a quote by Robert J. Hanlon.

This is an issue I have wanted to discuss for a long time. I have seen it used all the time in apologetics circles. Obviously, among the worst instances I have experienced has been from atheists—but also theists, Christians, and even Catholics have at times acted in ways antithetical to Christianity. However, there are other issues, I might note, for which people do it, including trivialities such as fandoms, I have noted, because the internet appears to be a place for people who are guilty of this to congregate unfortunately (and do and say worse things). 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin of rash judgment is when one “even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor.” (CCC 2477) This is why I am entirely against, on religious grounds, accusing people without reasonable proof of intellectual dishonesty. What I mean by this is that very often when I say, “I think this miracle seems very convincing, enough so that it appears to me that the supernatural must exist for this reason alone”, I often receive, rather than an actual intellectual rebuttal, the response of something to the effect of “Actually, no, you are lying because you want God to exist.”  Now, obviously, if I were just being intellectually dishonest in order to prop up a false belief that God is real, that would be wrong of me, and if that fact were known, I ought to be condemned. However, on this very account, what my interlocutor is doing is harming me by assuming evil of me without evidence, as, seeing that even if I were wrong, it could easily be explained by me just not knowing a lot or being severely intellectually impaired (I do not think I am, but that would be the more charitable interpretation). So if someone says something that seems ridiculous to you, still respond with kindness and try to understand your interlocutor’s views. Typically, in my experience, if your interlocutor’s views seem absolutely ridiculous, chances are the reason for this is that you do not actually understand those views.

Further, even if one disregards the moral perspective, even from a rhetorical perspective, it is a fallacy which C. S. Lewis calls bulverism, which is basically a combination of circular reasoning, the genetic fallacy, and presumption. Other than that it proves nothing because anyone who does this is already presuming that he or she is right, which does nothing for productive discourse, in my mind it actually discredits the one who is making the argument.  Think about it this way: if your opponent’s arguments really made as little sense as you say, why can you not rationally debunk them? By committing the fallacy of bulverism, you are rather revealing your own incompetence in that area.

I think it is used as much as it is because, although logically and rhetorically, it is ineffective and useless, from a human and emotional perspective, it is incredibly effective. If a debater is unaware what the technique is, he may be confused and not know how to respond. Further, those who struggle with the sin of pride (a thing with which I think we have all struggled to some degree as it is the primordial vice), it may offend us, making it harder for us to argue rationally. To put it another way, it evades the question while, if applied carefully, making the opponent look like an idiot rather than doing it to one’s self.

If you are arguing with someone who implements the fallacy of bulverism, I suggest you say something akin to, “Well, if what I am saying is as ridiculous as you claim, then you shall have no trouble explaining to me why I am wrong.” If you find yourself guilty of it, try to avoid it in the future.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Non-Christians

Does Science Say God Does Not Exist?

According to Science, God Does Not Exist—this is likely one of the most bold and, dare I say it, rather foolhardy things I have ever read, and I simply felt I had to respond. I see a fundamental problem with the very title, but I let the article I am debunking first speak. The article is written by someone called Austin Cline, which I found on It is an old article, written on June 25, 2019, but I think it deserves a response because I find that this line of reasoning embodies what is wrong with a lot of atheistic apologetics. Let us begin.

In the debate over whether God exists, we have theists on the one side, atheists on the other, and, in the middle, science. Atheists claim there is scientific proof that God is not real. Theists, on the other hand, insist that science, in fact, has been unable to prove that God does not exist. According to atheists, however, this position depends upon a mistaken understanding of the nature of science and how science operates. Therefore, it is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist—just as science discounts the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.

As noted above, there is so much wrong with the very basis of this line of reasoning. Yes, science does not prove and never will prove that God does not exist. This, I think, is not only because God does, in fact, exist, but also, more importantly, because Mr. Cline does not understand the nature of the question, “Does God exist?” The God-debate is not, and never has been, a question pertaining primarily to natural science in the first place, nor should we expect it to do so. Rather, the question is philosophical. The reason for this is that God is not part of the physical or natural universe. On the contrary, He created the laws of physics to begin with. Therefore, He should not be expected to be subject to being proved or disproved by natural science in the first place. Yes, it is true that God can interfere with the natural sciences through miracles. However, that is not the way we ought to expect our main source of evidence for God, as that is philosophical, not scientific. This problem will emerge again throughout the article.

To understand why “God does not exist” is a legitimate scientific statement, it’s important to understand what the statement means in the context of science. When scientist say, “God does not exist,” they mean something similar to when they say “aether does not exist,” “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist.”

All such statements are shorthand for a more elaborate and technical explanation, which is that this alleged entity (or God) has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe anything or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

What should be most obvious about the more technically accurate statement is that it isn’t absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question; instead, it’s a provisional statement denying the existence of any relevance or reality to the entity or force based on what we currently know. Religious theists may be quick to seize upon this and insist that it demonstrates that science cannot “prove” that God does not exist, but that requires far too strict of a standard for what it means to “prove” something scientifically.

Statements such as “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist”, though perhaps perfectly legitimate as scientific statements, do not hold up to philosophy. Philosophers almost always would say something more to the effect of “I do not know if there is life on the moon”, unless there is proof to the contrary. But be that as it may, with the same stroke I could say “love does not exist” or “honor does not exist” or even, (dare I say it) “the laws of logic do not exist”. And before anyone tries to argue that the universe seems to follow the laws of logic, I challenge you to prove it without appealing to the laws of logic, which would render your reasoning cyclical.

Anyway, science cannot prove these things either because, unlike aether or life on the moon, God is not a scientific concept because He invented science, rendering this reasoning irrelevant.

In “God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist,” Victor J. Stenger offers this scientific argument against the existence of God:

In the upcoming argument, pretty much every premise has a problem with it, so I will have to deal with them one at a time. This will be fun.

1. Hypothesize a God who plays an important role in the universe.

God does play an important role in the universe. He made it in the first place, and He is constantly working in our souls. He did other things as well, such as inserting Himself into our history, dying, and rising again. However, apart from miracles, many of God’s actions are not actually scientific or deal with the laws of physics, because, as I said, God invented physics in the first place. Therefore, we should not expect any repeated consistencies in any even miraculous actions God does, as His main concern is with our spiritual wellbeing. Nor indeed do I think it is fair to God to do so. So yes, I agree with the first premise, but I am not sure I agree with what was probably intended by it.

2. Assume that God has specific attributes that should provide objective evidence for his existence.

As there are—for instance, His Omnibenevolence as is shown by the fact that we live in a moral universe where human beings are naturally disposed to praise good and punish evil or His Omnipotence, as is shown by the splendor of the universe, or His Oneness and Simplicity, as is shown by the general unity and fine-tuning of the universe. But, I assume, these people are not going to go with any of these.

3. Look for such evidence with an open mind.

That is good, and I applaud these people. However, if Mr. Stenger is looking by the method of the natural sciences for a being who is not part of the natural sciences or subject to them (He invented them), I think he is very much limiting his resources.

4. If such evidence is found, conclude that God may exist.

Very well. That is fair enough.

5. If such objective evidence is not found, conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with these properties does not exist.

That is also fair enough. I agree with more of this than I expected. However, I am still somewhat afraid what they mean is “scientific evidence”, which is narrowing a field of study. But let us continue.

This is basically how science would disprove the existence of any alleged entity. If God existed, there should be concrete evidence of His existence—not faith, but tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method. If we fail to find that evidence, then God cannot exist as defined.

“Not faith”—I have heard atheists cling to that a lot and put an insane amount of emphasis on the words “faith” and “believe” as if to claim that we have no evidence because we use that term. Seriously, I beg of you, write to me if you wish: give me a single example of one situation, outside of religion, where anyone would use the word “believe” to mean “accept a claim without any evidence to back it up”. I doubt it will be easy to find such a circumstance.

Now, as for tangible and measurable evidence, why should I expect that when trying to consider an intangible and immeasurable Being? Yes, we do have evidence based on His actions in the universe—we are evidence based on His actions in the universe. However, I have the feeling these people are looking for something else. But seriously, I would like to see Mr. Cline’s tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of logic, or his tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of arithmetic, or even his tangible scientific evidence for the statement, “If God existed, there should be […] tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method.” None of these can be substantiated tangibly.

Of course, nothing in science is proven or disproven beyond a shadow of any possible doubt. In science, everything is provisional. Being provisional is not a weakness or a sign that a conclusion is weak. Being provisional is a smart, pragmatic tactic because we can never be sure what we’ll come across when we round the next corner. This lack of absolute certainty is a window through which many religious theists try to slip their god, but that’s not a valid move.

That is true, and I can respect that, because scientists are always dealing with only a limited supply of data, for which reason science always has to change as new evidence presented itself. However, with equal truth, I would argue that God, quite wisely, for this very reason, did not concern Himself with making Himself scientifically verifiable according to rules that were not put forward until the Seventeenth Century. Instead, He went for a method that could be used just as effectively by Aristotle as it could by Mr. Cline if he got his epistemology right. Philosophy does not have this same doubt that natural science does. Not everyone can understand the theory of general relativity, but they can understand the theory of the Prime Mover or that effects come from causes, thus leading to one necessary Uncaused Cause. That is a thing that is not contingent on scientific development. Now one can disagree with the choices of evidence God decided to give us, but in that case, all you are doing is disagreeing with your Creator. You are free to accept the evidence that you are given or not, but I do not think it is wise to refuse evidence before you just because it cannot be illustrated by fancy equations on whiteboards.

 In theory, it may be possible that someday we will come across new information that will lead us to further explore the God hypothesis. If the evidence described in the above argument were found, for example, that would justify a rational belief in the existence of the sort of god under consideration. It wouldn’t prove the existence of such a god beyond all doubt, though, because belief would still have to be provisional.

See my point above. Also, I would note Mr. Cline did not actually even address a single philosophical argument for God’s existence.

It may also be possible that the same could be true of an infinite number of other hypothetical beings and supernatural forces. Zeus or Odin, Christian or Hindu—every possibility of a God or gods is up for exploration.

But then again, most arguments for classical theism actually preclude the existence of Zeus or Odin, both of whom had causes of their own—the former having the Sky and Earth of his grandparents and the latter having a cow for his grandmother. Therefore, neither of them work in the theory of the “Prime Mover” or “Uncaused Cause”. 

Finally, for such a proposition as “God exists” to have meaning to science, we need to define what “existence” in this case means. When it comes to God or a series of gods, their existence is dependent on evidence that they have had or continue to have an impact on the universe. In order to prove impact on the universe, there must be measurable and testable events that could best or only be explained by whatever this “God” is we are hypothesizing. Believers must be able to present a model of the universe in which some god is “either required, productive, or useful.”

God might explain why we see a chain of causes and effects throughout the universe in a better way than an infinite string of causes would. God might also explain the reason the universe is finely tuned. I could elaborate on these reasons, but I see no reason why I should when Mr. Cline seems unwilling to bring them up.

This is obviously not the case. Many believers work hard trying to find a way to introduce their god into scientific explanations, but none have succeeded. No believer has been able to demonstrate, or even strongly suggest, that there are any events in the universe that require a supernatural being to explain.

Instead, these constantly failing attempts end up reinforcing the impression that there is no “there” there—nothing for “gods” to do, no role for them to play, and no reason to give them a second thought.

The fact that you feel that way is noted. Feel free to explain if you wish. You say we “constantly fail”—in other words, we do put forth evidence, albeit evidence you do not find conclusive. Therefore, you are aware that we have evidence but rather than addressing any of it, you just go ahead and argue that science proves God does not exist from the assumption that we have no evidence. If I thought there was no evidence for God’s existence, I would be an atheist. Prove to me that my evidence is wrong, and even if you cannot prove to me that God does not exist per se, I will cease to believe. I eagerly await for you to address any of it.

 So far, everyone who has tried to scientifically prove that God exists has failed. While it’s technically true that this doesn’t mean that no one ever will succeed, it is also true that in every other situation where such failures are so consistent, we don’t acknowledge rational or even serious reasons to bother believing.

And here the word “scientifically” is brought up again. The only way I could scientifically prove God exists is by pointing to various historical miracles. Although I find some rather convincing, I do not think they are necessary to show God exists. Nor indeed has Mr. Cline proven that a supernatural Being should be subject to the natural scientific method.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

The Catechism On Muslims

This is an issue I have wanted to write about for a while now, but for some reason have never gotten around to it. I once ran into this passage some time ago and I was confused myself. The issue is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Muslims. Although I do not argue with what is meant by this passage, I do contend it was needlessly vague and probably ought to be revised. So let us jump into it. What does the Catechism say on Muslims? 

The quote says the following:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

CCC 841

One common objection I have heard to this quote is the idea that “they adore the one, merciful God”, being in some way heretical because they do not acknowledge the trinity or else people read it as a claim that Muslim worship is equal to Christian worship or something. First of all, the Jews do not believe in the Trinity either and I have trouble supposing that Moses, Elijah, and Abraham were idolaters. To quote the Catechism of St. Pious the Tenth about infidels “though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.” (Those Outside the Communion of Saints, Q. 3, Emphasis added) So yes, Muslims do worship God. They have a number of extremely erroneous beliefs about God and many worship God in very heinous ways such as beheading the followers of Christ, but they still worship God. They are better off being numbered as heretics rather than idolaters. You can disagree with this statement, but all you are doing is disagreeing with the Magisterium.

Nevertheless, on first glance, I do see why someone might be confused by this paragraph. In the first place, how is “the plan of salvation” extended to Muslims who do not acknowledge the divinity of Christ? The Church teaches, of course, that she is the sole means of salvation (Lateran IV, Const. 1). Second, some might object to saying they are in the “first place” when we owe salvation first to the Jews. So, how can this be reconciled? 

This is actually a quote from the dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, promulgated in the Second Vatican Council. Here is a lengthier quote from the document:

In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

Lumen Gentium ¶16

This deserves some unpacking. In the first place, the line “we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh” is clearly talking about the Jews and they are mentioned before the Muslims, so I suppose the group of “those who acknowledge the Creator” is not including religions that were founded by the Creator. This is actually covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well, so see paragraph 839 for more details.

The second problem, however, is likely greater. In what sense does the plan for salvation include Muslims? Does the Second Vatican Council deny the doctrine that the Church is the sole means of salvation? The short answer is no, it does not. This is shown just two paragraphs before, the same dogmatic constitution states: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved” (Lumen Gentium ¶14), so the document therefore clearly did not attack the doctrines of the Catholic Faith in that area.

What Lumen Gentium is doing, however, is reaffirming the doctrine on invincible ignorance. This is not a new doctrine. As early as 1863 by Pope Blessed Pius IX, who stated:

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.

Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7

So is there salvation outside of the Church? No, there is not, but some people can be part of the Church implicitly without realizing it. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church again, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” (¶1260) However, if one is aware that Christ formed the Catholic Church to save us all but then refuses to be part of it, I think it is fair to say such a person is going to hell.

So let us look again at the quote about Muslims. So, in what sense are they included in “the plan of salvation”? They are in the sense that everyone who tries to act justly is. Turning back to the paragraph in Lumen Gentium, it can be noted that that section of the document does not talk solely about Muslims. Let me quote this at length:

¶14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.” All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

¶15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.¶16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Added)

So let me break this down. First, the document reaffirms the teaching that the Catholic Church is the sole means of salvation but then explains, first of all, that Catechumens are already part of the Church, in a way, through desire. Then the document recognizes non-Catholic Christians such as Protestants and Orthodox and all the good things within their doctrine that they have taken from the True Faith, followed by a call for Christian unity. Finally, it brings up non-Christians. The document commends the Jews for being the first to receive Divine Revelation, even before we did, and the Muslims for maintaining many Christian ideas. Then, it speaks of those who are not particularly religious, saying that they can still be saved, if they are nonreligious through no fault of their own.

Then finally and most importantly, the document says “Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.” In other words, Lumen Gentium is saying that we do still mean to bring them to the Catholic Church. However, the Church still recognizes the good things in those religions that we share and also recognizes that individual members of that faith may be part of that faith through no fault of their own, wherefore they are included in the “plan of salvation”.

Now once again, I grant that if someone just reads the short quotation in the Catechism, he might not understand this, and I think there is a fair argument that that paragraph should be revised to explain the context. Nevertheless, to say this is contrary to the idea that the Church is the sole path to Salvation is inaccurate. 

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Abortion and Other Evils

If Fetuses Are People, Can Abortion Still Be Legal?

I do not know how many of my readers have been exposed to this idea, but I have found that there are many people who consider abortion to be immoral because they admit a fetus to be a human child yet nevertheless, do not think it should be illegal. I thought it wise to address this. Without further ado, let us begin.

Objection 1: Abortion should not be illegalized yet. For indeed, it would be unjust to do so now, for there are many troublesome pregnancies. The government should be sure that no pregnant woman is in need before it outlaws abortion.

To this I respond that I have no doubt this objection is born out of compassion for the pregnant woman, and indeed, I do not argue with the truth that there are many difficult pregnancies, especially in the case of rape. However, to say this alone makes it justified to keep abortion illegal, is, in my mind, hugely troublesome and reminiscent of a common justification for slavery in the past, that if all the slaves were emancipated, the economy would be ruined—or worse, saying that slavery should not be abolished until robots are developed to do these things for the slaves.

The poor are still capable of virtue. Or are we supposed to also legalize infanticide because it is easy for them? I understand that situations can be difficult, but that does not justify killing children.

Objection 2: Immoral though abortion may be, the fetus is not the only person who is relevant to this discussion. There is also the woman to consider. Because outlawing abortion would disproportionately affect one specific group of people, namely women, who are often struggling in difficult circumstances, abortion should not be made illegal.

To this I respond that if one is going to say that every law that disproportionately affects one group of people is unjust, I find the consequences problematic. Not only could I argue that this should make abortion illegal, as allowing abortion disproportionately affects unborn children because it is they who are being treated as subhuman, but also by this same logic do I think rape could be justified. Men are more likely to commit rape and they are the only ones who can physically impregnate someone. Does that mean rape should be legal because anti-rape laws are more likely to disproportionately affect men? If not, why should abortion be legal just because anti-abortion laws might just as well affect women?

Objection 3: It would seem it is unpractical and unjust to outlaw abortion, for were abortion to be illegalized, the rich would go to other countries to commit abortion, such that the only ones who would be affected would be the poor. This would disproportionately harm the poor, which would be unjust.

To this I respond that this assumes abortion harms anyone, as the law encourages parents to live better and more virtuous lives. Preventing anyone, rich or poor, from killing children, is never harming them.

Besides, this misses a critical point: yes, it still would be possible for some people to have abortions, but they would be significantly fewer and therefore more lives would be saved. Furthermore, it is our goal that abortion should be legal in all countries, so we have no choice to go with one country at a time.

Objection 4: It would seem that abortion should not be made illegal, for if such legislature were to be proposed, the people may refuse it and the bill may not be passed, but rather all that will happen is that pro-lifers will become a laughing stock.

To this I respond that I grant that this argument is prudential rather than moral, but I still find it rather extreme to say that one should not even try to pass such a law because it will make pro-lifers look bad. Not only, at least in the United States, has this been proven wrong with the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade,but also because if we are going to avoid passing laws just because it makes us look bad, where is the justice? I do not think being afraid failed laws will give us a bad name should prevent us from fighting to do our best to save what lives we can.

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On Protestants

Is Reincarnation Biblical?

Reincarnation, the belief that the soul can be reborn in a new body once the old body dies, is largely frowned upon and for good reason. My own Catholic Church teaches that everyone dies once, is sent to be judged before our Lord, and is either borne to heaven (frequently through the refining fires of purgatory) or else condemned straight to hell. However, there are some Christians who do believe in reincarnation. Thus, I thought it was reasonable to address it. Let us begin.

Did the Jews believe in reincarnation?

Some people argue for reincarnation by appealing to Matthew 16:13-14, which states:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 

This, they say, suggests that the Jews of the time believe in reincarnation. I see why someone by reading this verse might think this. However, the evidence suggests that they believed this was a case of resurrection, not reincarnation. This is what Herod the Tetrarch, at any rate, believed, as shown by Matthew 14:2, where he says of Jesus, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.”

Remember that many of the Jews, aside from the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23). The parallel passage in Luke 9:19 makes it clearer: “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.”

And before anyone claims that Jesus was the reincarnated version of John the Baptist who in turn was reincarnated from Elijah, first of all, Jesus was born only six months after John, and they were contemporaries, so Jesus must have somehow baptized Himself in the Jordan. Second, the apostles make it clear that this is what other people believe and then Peter reveals the true belief and is praised for it, namely, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (see Matthew 16:16, Luke 9:20)

In conclusion, I see no great evidence for reincarnation here.

John the Baptist

Another verse commonly used to defend reincarnation is Matthew 17:12-13, “‘I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.”

This, it is argued, suggests that our Lord was saying St. John the Baptist was a reincarnate form of Elijah the prophet.

There are a few problems with this interpretation. First, Elijah was not dead. As told in 2 Kings 2:9-18, Elijah did not die, but rather was taken up bodily into heaven. In other words, Elijah still had his old body and did not need a new one.

Besides, Matthew 17:1-8 tells the story of the transfiguration where Moses and Elijah appear to our Lord. Seeing that this is after John the Baptist had been beheaded, why could not Jesus see Moses and John?

So it stands to reason that Christ is talking about something else when He calls John Elijah. So what does he mean? The answer is found in Luke 1:16-17, which states, “[John] will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” [Emphasis added]

Note that Gabriel focuses on John’s future ministry. In other words, John, by going in the “spirit” of Elijah, is figuratively called “Elijah” by Jesus insofar as he fulfilled Elijah’s prophetic ministry.

So what does the Bible say?

Reincarnation is incompatible with Sacred Scripture and Christian Tradition. One example where the teachings of Jesus Christ. The clearest example is the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, as found inLuke 16:19-31. Now, the reason why this is important is that Luke 16:22-23, we are told that “[t]he poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom.” Thus, neither of them were reincarnated, but rather Lazarus went to eternal reward and the rich man went to eternal punishment.

This idea is corroborated by Hebrews 9:27, which states, “And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Were they to reincarnate, they would not die only once.

The Fathers

We may subvert their doctrine as to transmigration from body to body by this fact, that souls remember nothing whatever of the events which took place in their previous states of existence. For if they were sent forth with this object, that they should have experience of every kind of action, they must of necessity retain a remembrance of those things which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up those in which they were still deficient, and not by always hovering, without intermission, round the same pursuits, spend their labour wretchedly in vain (for the mere union of a body [with a soul] could not altogether extinguish the memory and contemplation of those things which had formerly been experienced ), and especially as they came [into the world] for this very purpose. 

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:33:1 (A.D. 189)

But is their opinion preferable, who say that our souls, when they have passed out of these bodies, migrate into the bodies of beasts, or of various other living creatures? Philosophers, indeed, themselves are wont to argue that these are ridiculous fancies of poets, such as might be produced by draughts of the drugs of Circe; and they say that not so much they who are represented to have undergone such things, as the senses of those who have invented such tales are changed into the forms of various beasts as it were by Circe’s cup. For what is so like a marvel as to believe that men could have been changed into the forms of beasts? How much greater a marvel, however, would it be that the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of a beast so opposed to that of man, and being capable of reason should be able to pass over to an irrational animal, than that the form of the body should have been changed? You yourselves, who teach these things, destroy what you teach. For you have given up the production of these portentous conversions by means of magic incantations.

St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Death of Satyrus II:127 (A.D. 380)

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On Protestants

A Biblical Defense of Original Sin

Some people feel uncomfortable with the doctrine of Original Sin. The idea that a human being can be in any way accountable for the sin of Adam, I understand, can be difficult to comprehend. But let us see what the Bible says. But let us first understand what Original Sin is. For that, let us look to the Council of Trent:

“If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone and not his posterity, and that the holiness and justice which he received from God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has transfused only death and the pains of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul, let him be anathema.”

Trent, Sess. 5, Para. 2

Now, Original Sin is not a sin for us per se. “Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.” (CCC 404) A fundamental change came upon men at that point. It was then when people became disposed to sin and death. 

So would God punish us for Adam’s sin?

It is actually incorrect to say that God will punish us for the sins of our fathers, as stated in Ezekiel 18:20, where it states that a “son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father”. However, it is well known that future generations can be harmed by the deeds of their parents, so I think it fair to say that God will simply not directly punish a person for the sin of another. Original sin is not God punishing man for Adam’s sin.

The usual analogy goes something along these lines is as follows: imagine a mighty knight, who is close friends with the king. These privileges were extended to his wife and children, being allowed to eat at the king’s table. The knight received this privilege for killing a dragon. However, later on it comes out that the knight faked the dragon’s head. The knight is therefore sent away from the castle in shame and his family members lose those privileges with him. Thus, his children are not being punished per se, but they are still losing the privileges they would have otherwise had if not for the sin of their father. This is basically what Original Sin is. We are not punished for Adam’s sin, but because of Adam’s sin, we have lost sanctifying grace and therefore the right to eternal life, only to be returned to us by Jesus Christ.

But where is it found in the Bible? That is another very good question.

Romans 5:12

Romans 5:12 states the following, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”

Now, some might say that the text is referencing personal sin only. However, it is simply inaccurate to say that all men sinned because infants and severely mentally handicapped persons have not. Furthermore, Paul says this is the reason that death spread to the same all men in the world who have sinned, which further provides evidence against the idea that this is about personal sin. Death is not a result of personal sin under every circumstance, a good example being in the case of a miscarriage. 

Now obviously, Catholics do not believe that Jesus Christ or Mary His Mother had either Original or Actual Sin. Further, we know that Jesus Christ died and Mary at least may have died.

This objection would work if there were no precedence for there to be exceptions to the rule. In other words, it is a well-known fact that, in general, to be a body is to die. For instance, it is known Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates died.

However, there are two exceptions to that rule: Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). They were mortal, corporeal men who contracted sin, but through the power of God, they were exceptions to the rule and did not die. This we know by God’s revelation. Thus, similarly, if Enoch and Elijah “sinned”, as Paul said, and yet death did not spread to them, it does not seem to me too incredible that God could exempt Jesus and Mary from sin while still allowing them to partake in the rest of his children. However, since it is not revealed by God that infants are exemptions from this rule (because that would make no sense), it can be presumed, if they have not sinned, that Paul was talking about Original Sin.

Therefore, unless we are going to say that every fetus who is miscarried and every newborns who grows ill and dies is either some sort of miraculous exception to the rule that “death spreads to people because they have sinned” who is sinless and dies anyway, or else fetuses can be sinners, or else if neither of these is plausible, Paul was not referencing personal sin. Therefore, an inherited “sin”, which we call Original Sin, seems the most plausible.

“We had offended in the first Adam, when he did not perform His commandment. In the second Adam, however, we are reconciled, being made obedient even unto death. For we were debtors to none other but to Him whose commandment we had transgressed at the beginning.”

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:16:3 (c. A.D. 180-190)

“On account of his [Adam’s] transgression man was given over to death; and the whole human race, which was infected by his seed, was made the transmitter of condemnation.”

Tertullian, The Testimony of the Soul 3:2 (c. A.D. 197-200)

“Anyone who would say that even infants who pass from this life without participation in the sacrament [of baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Letter to Jerome 166:7:21 (c. A.D. 415)

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Abortion and Other Evils

“Questions for Pro-lifers” Responded

I didn’t get around to writing much this week, so I decided to take a shortcut and debunk someone else, which usually takes less time. I was in the mood to defend pro-life arguments, so I found an article by Huffpost called Questions for Pro-Lifers by Jill Filipovic, entitled, Questions for Pro-lifers. Without further ado, let us answer them:

I know there are at least a few HuffPo readers who self-identify as “pro-life.” So here’s a question for you: How much time should she do?

One goal of the anti-choice movement is to outlaw abortion. But, as Anna Quindlen points out, anti-choice activists are almost never able to identify what the legal consequences should be for women who terminate their pregnancies. So, pro-lifers, tell me: What should the penalty be? How much time in jail should a woman face for abortion?

One thing to know about this article is that she uses the term pro-life one time and then mostly calls us “anti-choice” for most of the article. I am so tempted to use the term “anti-life” for the rest of my rebuttal, but that might be rude to honest pro-choice advocates reading. So “pro-choice” it is. I am also rather confused as to how this is a difficult question. Probably, the penalty for abortion should be similar to the penalty for infanticide.

Anti-choicers emphasize that a fetus is a person, invested with all the same natural rights as you or I. Life begins at conception. That fertilized egg has all of its DNA, making it just as human as all of us and endowing it with the right to live.

And “anti-lifers” emphasize calling children fertilized eggs (sorry, I could not resist that one). I just had to point out, however, that once an egg is fertilized, it ceases to be an egg. Now, the correct term is “zygote”. Be fortunate zygotes are not old enough to be offended yet, since many a seven-year-old would be offended about being called a baby.

But if a fetus is a person, and abortion indisputably kills a fetus, then abortion is murder — deliberate, pre-meditated murder. That certainly isn’t a new concept for anti-choicers — the “abortion is murder” line has been around for decades now. But we punish people for murder. We sentence them to long prison terms, often for life. Sometimes we execute them.

Do you support executing women who have abortions?

Do you support jailing them for life? For a few decades?

Yes, we should do one of those things. I do not believe in capital punishment, particularly not in the United States, where I live, but I do not think that is that insane to put mothers who have abortions in prison for a few decades. Obviously, it depends on the circumstances of the mother who committed an abortion—whether she was a teenager pressured into it or if she is a wealthy married lady who did it for convenience—but either way I think it should be criminalized.

Quindlen writes: “Lawmakers in a number of states have already passed or are considering statutes designed to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned. But almost none hold the woman, the person who set the so-called crime in motion, accountable. Is the message that women are not to be held responsible for their actions? Or is it merely that those writing the laws understand that if women were going to jail, the vast majority of Americans would violently object? Watch the demonstrators in Libertyville try to worm their way out of the hypocrisy: It’s murder, but she’ll get her punishment from God. It’s murder, but it depends on her state of mind. It’s murder, but the penalty should be … counseling?”

Good question. The answer is that they are very wrong. I suspect the main reason for this is misplaced pity for the murderess because she is frequently in a difficult situation. Also, as this writer points out, I think for some of them, politicians just realize that, if women were going to jail, the vast majority of Americans would violently object, making it almost impossible to pass such laws at the moment, and even if they managed to pass these laws, a lot of people might die in the ensuing riots. In that case, for some laws, it may be a prudential choice to save as many lives as possible rather than a directly moral one.

If women are so infantile that our bad acts toward fetuses must be punished with counseling or left to God, does that apply when our bad acts are directed at born people? If I kill my next-door neighbor, can I simply say that because of my tiny lady-brain and tinier lady-morals, I just didn’t know any better? Can I get counseling or some smiting instead of jail time?

When it is put that way, I do see how someone might be offended by the idea or consider it offensive to women. Yes, mothers who killed their unborn children should go to prison.

Anti-choice legislation has centered on the idea that life begins at conception, and that the legal defintion of “person” should include fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses. According to the National Right to Life Act, introduced to Congress this past January (and several times before that), “The terms `human person’ and `human being’ include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.”

The definition of murder is “killing a person with malice aforethought.” If personhood is established at the moment of fertilization, and all people are invested with equal rights under the law, then there is no getting around the fact that under anti-choice legislation, women who terminate pregnancies are committing murder — or at the very least, paying someone else to do it.

I actually agree with everything here. I just have to say, Ms. Filipovic has made her point by calling us all “anti-choice”. She does not have to keep going. It is no longer comical even in a satirical way, so now is just getting needlessly scathing.

Some anti-choicers argue that doctors should be punished, not women. So I’ll ask this:

How much time should doctors do?

Do you support executing doctors who perform abortions?

Do you support jailing them for life? For a few decades?

How do we justify prosecuting doctors for performing abortions, but not the women who pay them to perform the abortion? Are there other situations in which a person can pay another person to commit an illegal act — an illegal act that allegedly takes a human life — and not be held culpable?

What about women who self-induce their own abortions, without the aid of a doctor? Do they qualify as illegal abortionists? Should they be prosecuted?

How can it possibly be legally (or even morally) consistent to attach full rights to a fetus and then treat its death as somehow less important, or different, than the death of a born person? Is a fetus’s death less important, or different, than the death of a born person?

Once again, I completely agree. This just shows certain pro-lifers’ inconsistencies surrounding beliefs on abortion laws. Both the doctor and the mother should definitely go to prison, along with anyone who aided or abetted this procedure to go on. 

Some anti-choicers argue that women are the secondary victims of abortion, that they do not know what they are doing and cannot be held responsible for their actions. If that’s the case, how can we hold women responsible for killing born people? If a woman pays someone to kill her three-year-old child, can she simply argue that she didn’t know it was murder and therefore lacked the malicious mindset to qualify it as such? Can she say that she was a victim? If abortion is illegalized and the law states that terminating a pregnancy is murder, then surely women will be on notice, which makes it difficult to argue that the poor dear just had no idea what she was doing. If what she needs is some good pro-life counseling, will that be the new standard for any woman who commits murder? Why does the age of the “person” killed, or their born or pre-born status, change the punishment for killing them?

Anti-choicers sometimes offer the solution of criminalizing abortion, but not qualifying it as murder and not prosecuting women. But that isn’t the route that anti-choice legislation is taking. And if we do go that route, why? Is killing a person through abortion less bad than killing a person after they’re born? If not, then what justifies the different treatment?

Agreed. I think her reasoning shows the flaws with some pro-lifers about whom I am skeptical as to how sincerely they believe the unborn have rights. I should point out, however, that I do not, as some pro-choice advocates (or, as Ms. Filipovic should properly say, “anti-lifers”) assume, think that women who have had abortions when the State recognized it as legal should be placed in prison, because that is not how criminal justice works.

To complicate things a little more: If life begins at conception, and from the moment of fertilization an egg is a full-fledged human being with the same rights as you or I, what do we do about calculating the death rate? The miscarriage rate? After all, more than half of fertilized eggs fail to implant in the uterus — are a majority of Americans dying before they’re even born? What about identical twins, who at the moment of fertilization are one person but days later become two?

Finally, she is asking about questions that actually apply to me, but frankly, I do not see the point of the questions. Yes, unfortunately, the unborn have a rather higher mortality rate than most of us (how high is debatable), but so did children under the age of five relatively recently, so unless we are going to argue that everyone under five years old does not have human rights, I do not really see the relevance here.

As for the remark about identical twins, once again, I do not see the relevance of that. Human cloning can exist, so this “natural cloning”, as it were, once again, hardly invalidates a claim to human rights.

What do we do about all those embryos in fertility clinics? Do we force women to implant them and carry them to term? If not, how do we justify forcing women to carry naturally-implanted pregnancies to term? If the answer is that we don’t force women to be implanted with embryos, but we don’t kill the embryos either — we just let them be — then would it be OK for pregnant women to simply remove their embryos/fetuses without purposely killing them and just hope for the best?

Now these are actually excellent questions. As for what to do with embryos in “fertility clinics”, as they are called (personally, I see nothing “clinical” about them), I certainly see no reason one could justify forcing women to be implanted. But I think there is a difference between leaving a child frozen in ice with whom one has nothing to do and a mother directly killing her child in abortion. What should be done about such children is up for debate, but I do hope that artificial wombs will be developed eventually for that reason alone, only to be used for grave reasons to make up for evils of the past, such as to rescue children trapped in suspended animation. It is intrinsically evil for these in vitro fertilizers to place children into the position of never being allowed to grow older and be perpetually frozen in icicles and I would hope we will find humane means to cure it in the future. The question as to whether there is any licit way of “rescuing” such embryos can be debated. However, at the moment, there is really no way to do that without paying the people in charge of IVF and therefore legitimizing their industry, so that cannot be done now. It is sad, I admit, but there is no easy solution to save them at this moment.

In the case of deliberately removing embryos from their mothers’ wombs, if one actively participates in freezing children for an indefinite period of time, that is objectively immoral. Otherwise, if one simply deliberately removes an embryo before viability, that is basically directly killing that child.

If a fertilized egg is a full-fledged person under the law, what other legal activities — other than abortion — would have to go? We know that most “pro-life” groups already oppose fertility treatments and the use of contraception. Would we make those things illegal? What would the punishment be? Would we outlaw any medical treatment that could potentially harm a fetus, even if foregoing it meant that the woman would experience severe health complications or death? What about ectopic pregnancies, wherein a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, threatening the woman’s health and life? Ectopic pregnancies are never viable, and it is often possible to simply give the woman a shot of methotrexate, which dissolves the egg, or to perform surgery to remove the pregnancy and saves the woman’s life. But that would qualify as the intentional killing of a human being. Do we go with the current “pro-life” solution, which involves removing the entire fallopian tube, compromising the woman’s fertility and killing the embryo — but is justified because it wasn’t a direct killing?

The term, once again, is embryo, not fertilized egg, and an embryo is not “full-fledged” exactly. He or she is a child.

At least Ms. Filipovic used pro-life again, though in quotes, which is better than anti-choice, I admit (that was getting tiring). Other than the misuse of terms, these are all reasonable but answerable questions, and I appreciate that Ms. Filipovic has done her research. It is immoral to directly kill an innocent human being. However, it is permissible under many circumstances to risk or allow a human being to die when a situation is sufficiently grave. As an example, if two people were drowning in a pool, it would be licit to swim out to save one, allowing the other to drown when one cannot save both, but it would be illicit to push one person downward in the pool to save the other. Thus, I think it is perfectly conceivable to say that it is always wrong to directly kill an innocent but sometimes permissible under grave circumstances to allow such a person to die to prevent greater evil (although not, of course, for the motive of convenience, which often seems to be the motive of most abortions).

What about pregnant women engaging in behaviors that are risky for the fetus? Can she be prosecuted for child abuse or negligence if she, say, drinks coffee while she’s pregnant? If she eats tuna? If she smokes? If she drinks? What about if she goes skiing? What if she didn’t know she was pregnant, but should have known, and she does something risky — like goes binge drinking every night and survives off of Cheetos? Willful blindness? Neglect? What if she miscarries, and perhaps you can attribute it to something she did — negligent homicide?

That all makes perfect sense to me. Next question?

What do doctors do if they’re faced with a life-threatening pregnancy? Do they force the woman to continue it, knowing it will kill her? I mean, it’s not the fetus’s fault, and it can’t really be construed as self-defense to terminate the pregnancy. And their lives are equal, aren’t they? Do we just let nature take its course, then?

As stated previously, killing them directly would always be wrong, but if two persons are involved in a procedure and only one can be saved, it is still possible to allow the other to die without directly killing. But, of course, when dealing with two patients, it only makes sense that a doctor should show concern for both.

Finally, what about if we’re deciding between an embryo and a born child — who wins out? Lots of feminists have asked this question before and we’ve never gotten a straight answer, so let me try again. Take this hypothetical, adapted from a great many abortion-related conversations: There’s a fire in a fertility clinic. Inside the clinic there’s a three-year-old boy who you’ve never met and have absolutely no connection to. There are also 100 embryos in a box, none of which you have any connection to. You only have time to run into the clinic one time. You cannot carry the boy and the box at the same time. What do you do? Do you save 100, or do you save one?

First of all, “feminists”—aside from all the original ones who recognized abortion was murder, I assume? That is a good question. To be completely honest, I would probably be tempted to save the one hundred embryos and that is probably what I would do first. However, if I were to save the three-year-old first, I would probably do so because the embryos have much less of a chance to grow up and have a future like ours. It has already been robbed from them and IVF is immoral in the first place. Therefore, it makes some sense from the perspective of a pro-lifer who saves the three-year-old to save the one who actually has a chance of living a full life as human beings are naturally ordered to have rather than being in suspended animation for the rest of human history.

Those who want to see abortion criminalized need to think long and hard about the consequences of their ideal policies. They need to think long and hard about their true beliefs when it comes to fetal personhood. Because this post is long and I know all your time is valuable, I’ll even let busy “pro-life” readers off the hook with this one. If you don’t have time to address all the above-raised points, just answer this one: How much time should she do?

How much time should the mother do? I do not really know, as that depends on the circumstance and probably it would vary depending on the area. But I do not see how the question, “If you think this thing should be criminalized, how do you explain how much time the criminal should serve in prison?” I am fine with the judicial system figuring it out, provided abortion is solidly illegal. I do not see how this question makes it difficult for the pro-life position.

So, in all, these are reasonable questions and I hope I have answered them satisfactorily.

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I am the Chivalric Apologist