Reading the Bible Like a Paperback

I’ve always been a reader, not only in my work as an apologist and in the classroom, but also in my free time. Outside of New Testament, theological studies, philosophy and history, I’ve widely read economic works, true crime, literature, as well as Science fiction and fantasy. In the latter category, this has included paperback novels (particularly those related to the Star Wars’ Expanded Universe, which are now marketed under the “Star Wars Legends moniker, due to changes in the chronology when Disney acquired the property) as well as more serious works, such as those of H G Wells, Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula.

I’ve noticed that I read different types of work differently. That is, I don’t read Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn Trilogy with the same attention and connection to other fields as when I read to Shakespeare or the New Testament. This is not to insult Zahn, I have read his works and enjoyed them, but I enjoy them in a different way, and the seriousness of the literature demands a different type of engagement.

New Atheists

Often you will see Christian apologists who have commented that “new Atheist” writers have not even consulted rudimentary sources in the debate between Christians and atheists. Another way of explaining this problem is to suggest they have treated the Bible in the same way one would treat a paperback novel, but they seem to think that their expertise rivals that of those who have actually spent decades studying the material as one might study Shakespeare or Milton.

Here is a trick I’ve used in a few cases in facebook discussions when one of the passages atheists regularly rely on is cited, (I rarely use this move because it tends to end discussions rather than facilitate them). I simply ask, “what commentary or theological literature have you read on that particular passage.” Usually the answer is none.[1] Other times I have made the point, perhaps less politely, with the photo of a mug stating, “Your google search is not a substitute for my theology degree.”

Ex-Evangelicals

It should seem reasonable to assume that unbelievers will not know the Christian Scriptures well, and provided someone is not claiming expertise they do not possess, (by say, writing a book on the matter), I’m not going to quibble, it is my responsibility to make my case, not theirs to accept it a priori. But the objection that gets raised to this issue are ex-evangelicals, and sadly even a few ex-pastors who raise the same passages from the Christian Scriptures, without comment. And yet, in my interactions with ex-evangelicals, the same general ignorance still applies, this seems strange, or perhaps, we might say, it is sad. I believe in part it is because Americans exist in a pseudo-intellectual culture (that is, the average American claims to value knowledge, but only when that knowledge comes easily through documentaries and hip websites, not when there is a need for intellectual ardor and hard work; we wish to be thought well read more than we wish to be well read), but much of the Evangelical culture does not value the mind. (This is perhaps one of the reasons why Reformed churches are growing currently, because the Protestant intellectual tradition largely grows out of Calvin’s Geneva).[2] We speak of reading the Bible, but we do so seeking something spiritual as if the mind is some disconnected, amorphous blob that has nothing to do with the rest of the Christian life. Our theological programs seem built on the predicate that the life of the mind for the believer is only for the pastor, or the seminary professor. If atheists read the Bible like so many cheap paperbacks, perhaps this is because this is precisely how so many believers read the Bible.

We need a balance. Not every Christian is called to be a scholar, not everyone will memorize the Kalam cosmological argument, or the full history of the Christological conflicts of the fourth and fifth centuries, but we also need to again have education programs in our churches that both has some apologetic value, but also some theological and Biblical substance. Doctrine and Biblical studies are not the guarded and isolated domain of the clergy, hoarded to answers questions as needed, but rather the property of the Body as a whole. This is a particular problem in Baptist churches, and I speak as a committed Baptists by conviction on most points.[3] Baptists should be the least hidebound of all the denominations, our view of soul liberty (and the right of every believer to study the Bible for themselves) implies a responsibility to study the Bible. But, sadly, such responsibilities fail to attain the status we might accord so many other duties or pleasures. Perhaps we have so many ex-evangelicals with a college level understanding of naturalism and its premises and a 2nd grade level understanding of the Christian faith, because we have settled for the belief that this is enough. Right now, it isn’t.

[1] In a few cases, the retort that has been made is that Evangelical resources are biased. True, but so are the resources coming from every other direction. Bias is an inevitable product of intellectual activity and it cannot be dispensed with completely, but it is possible to be objective with a bias. Thus, the question remains, if the Evangelical resources are wrong, without simply asserting premises that are themselves a source of bias (such as David Hume’s Argument Against Miracles), where specifically do they go wrong. Usually there is no answer on this, but that also tells me I am dealing with a mind too closed to have a productive conversation and it is time to walk away. As I said, this technique tends to be a debate stopper.

 

[2] Many might object to this statement, but I did not say only Calvinists have an intellectual tradition. It is not that theological education is somehow especially the province of Calvinism, nor is there something intrinsically of greater worth in a Calvinists mind or heart. Rather, the point is historical, the forging of the protestant tradition, including those who dissent from the narrower Calvin, were forged in Geneva. For example, while there is an intellectually vigorous Arminianism in the Anglican tradition, this tradition itself is an outgrowth of the Calvinist roots of an earlier age. Arminius himself was nurtured and fed by the ravens and brooks of Geneva.

 

But I also assumes that Calvinism is a broader tradition. Back in the 90s, it was fashionable to consider oneself neither a Calvinist, nor an Arminian. This was my own way of describing myself at the time. I believe Calvin was right about election, a position I took initially with a certain degree of trepidation, but one which the logic of Scripture would not allow me to avoid. But I have never agreed with Calvin about reprobation. But, as I have aged, I have come to realize election itself is the dividing line between the two positions, and as such, any type of centrist position is a type of Calvinism. Arminianism is by definition one of the extremes on the spectrum of divine sovereignty and human freewill. The opposite of an Arminian is not the Calvinist, but the theological determinist, a subset of a subset of the Calvinism. In particular, there are distinctions between the Scottish school of Calvinist thought (a much broader tradition in practice) and the Dutch Reformed model, and I think the Scottish model is more adaptable, and a better fit for intellectual enquiry. This is why I call myself a Calvinist, but I do not describe myself as reformed, as I am a dispensationalist, and most reformed confessions of faith repudiate sublapsarianism.

[3] Many differences between denominations comes down to relatively unimportant matters, one of these is “church government.” I personally have come to the conclusion that the reason there are so many various interpretations on this issue of the Biblical data is because the Biblical data is not intended to answer those questions, rather we have a certain flexibility here that is implied. The church’s order has altered throughout history in part to adapt to circumstances and cultural views on leadership. Other than an agnosticism on the issue of government I am a fairly unremarkable Baptist in my conclusions.

Christianity as Faith without Evidence?

One of the central claims by Sam Harris and many internet atheists is the claim that there is no evidence to support religious beliefs, or that religious beliefs are unjustified. In some senses, this should be easily dismissed, like Dawkins and Hitchens, Harris has not adequately done his homework.[1] For example, in his arguments he claims Pascal’s wager advocates belief without evidence,[2] but this does discredit to Pascal. Pascal’s wager is predicated on his statements that the evidence for Christian theism and against it were evenly matched, Harris does not mention this rather critical assumption to the wager, or Pascal’s development of the point. Similarly, of the three places where he footnotes a statement from Augustine, in 2 places his statement is from a secondary source. Additionally, he assumes a definition of religious belief drawn from Kierkegaard’s view of belief as a “Leap in the dark” and Hebrews 11:1, which he treats as a definition of faith. The later point is an example of poor exegesis, however, as that section of text should not be treated as a definition. Nor should Kierkegaard be treated as a universal explanation of Christian theism.

But what is most astonishing is, in my days of arguing on facebook, whenever one begins to produce evidence for the resurrection, the atheists invariable counter is dismissal of the evidence, usually with poor examinations, or by claiming something about the gospels that is believed by “most New Testament scholars,” without noting, or perhaps even understanding, that scholars are as divided on these points as are anyone else.[3] Mention Ramsey’s work with Acts (my usual starting point), references from Tacitus of the Talmud, and the responses are never one of inquiry they are rather closeminded refusals to investigate the matter further, sometimes with the type of haughty ridicule that personifies “New Atheism.”

The key thing to understanding the claim that Christians have faith, but no evidence, is that it is predicated on the naturalistic assumption that evidence for miracles should be treated prejudicially as false, that is, when evidence is cited, it must be dismissed because miracles don’t happen.[4] That is, their worldview begins with a close mind, not an enquiring one. There is a lot more here than can be quickly unpacked, but it is useful to know that the charge itself is false, it isn’t that Christians believe without evidence, it is that Christians believe on the basis of evidence that atheists do not seem to wish to examine.

[1]This is treating him kindly, it is either this, or he is deliberately misrepresenting positions raised by others.

[2] Please note, adequate care should always be used with Pascal’s work on the subject since it was a project he did not complete before his death.

[3] Much of modern theological scholarship was deeply impacted by German Idealism, particularly by Hegel. Biblical scholarship is divided, unsurprisingly along theological lines. Some view the theological left as neutral, but their epistemology is impacted by continental philosophers and Hume, they are therefore as partisan and biased in their analysis as they claim evangelical scholars to be.

 

Interestingly, much of the debate concerning the gospels comes down to the writings of the very early church fathers. The theological liberal, argues they are unreliable, and usually makes this claim with inadequate evidence and reasoning. The fathers were men, therefore not infallible, and they were men who held to the scientific theories of their times, but there are good reasons for not dismissing the fathers so hastily, or to paint with two broad a brush and argue that some error in one father discredits all who follow. First, they had more information than the 19th century German critics did, they had access to documents and sources we do not. Second, their claims for the gospels are unanimous, but we would not expect unanimity in the second century fathers of the gospel writers were actually unknown. Third, we would expect the gospels would be attributed to the leading lights among the apostles, not Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mark is a minor character, best known for his failings in the New Testament era, though early tradition places him as working with Peter. Matthew is an apostle, but hardly prominent. Luke was merely a companion of Paul’s, and not an apostle in his own right. There is also a certain likelihood of the identifications that fits modern historiography, but was likely less impressive to ancient thinkers. There are regularly raised questions asserting Galilean fishermen could not have written the gospels. This I think is a faulty question, sociological data of history is too imprecise for the claim to either be considered proven, or refuted. I dislike the sheer number of assumptions needed to make that case, either way. But, it is ultimately irrelevant. Matthew was a tax collector, meaning he was literate. Mark is associated with Peter in early tradition, and was also from an apparently wealthy Levitical family (and thus was likely educated). Luke, who wrote as a historian, was also a learned man. John probably came from a somewhat well off family (his father owned two boats and had hired workers) and so he might have had some advantages in education other fisherman did not have. Additionally, his gospel is later than the synoptics, and therefore, he had ample time during his ministry to learn the necessary skills before writing the gospel.

 

But here is where it gets interesting, some of the issues within NT scholarship come from treating something called the Two-Source theory as being very certain, and this is used as grounds to claim the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. This reasoning, is backwards. That is, if there is a problem between the two source version and the patristic data, the patristic data has far better credibility than imagining sources on the basis of Hegel’s approach to dialectic.

[4]This is the sum effect of David Hume’s argument against miracles. The argument has two parts, an “in principle” section is a circular argument, and would seem to make it impossible to believe in new discoveries, if followed with any rigor. Second, his “in fact” set of four statements that are really examples of argumentium ad hominem implying ancients were too ignorant and uneducated to understand the in principle argument, with a claim that religious miracles cancel each other out, this later part is a non-sequitar, since as CS Lewis noted, what is present are not actually contradictory. Additionally, Hume’s arguments are couched in his own brand of radical skepticism, and one wonders if the argument can be grounded without that skepticism, a skepticism that his modern proponents do not share.

Progressivism: Salvation through Politics

A few weeks ago, after my recent pieces on mass shootings my mother noted she was concerned that several political posts on truth in the trenches that I was moving away from my central mandate; I certainly can understand this point, the gospel and the Christian faith is my bedrock and center. I also have another blog that I am looking at using for non-apologetic pieces on issues that have philosophical and theological elements to them, and unfortunately too many of these are political for my tastes.

This raises the question, why deal with politics on an apologetics blog at all? This is a valid question, but my answer is going to be a bit different from past thoughts. My reasons are that I think progressivism (as well as the predominate form of libertarianism, such as is found in the writings of Ayn Rand) should be treated as a religion, not merely as a political philosophy. As such, I am ultimately demonstrating the unreliability of a religious sect, rather than defending a political opinion. I will not expound on the entirety of my case at this time (four earlier versions of this article have been deleted, because trying to make that case quickly started turning into blog posts that are both too complex and too long—even for me). Rather I will note two points of a larger case that will come together later, Lord willing in a journal article. First, from the standpoint of philosophy of religion, new atheism, communism Nazism and other movements have been described with terms such as “pseudo-religions,” because when criteria for defining a religion are laid down, these movements are inevitably similar. Second, historically, I believe the 21st century, like the age of exploration, is demonstrating that the traditional taxonomy of religious beliefs is inadequate, and the distinction between religion and worldview even less adequate. I’ve seen some commentators refer to progressives as “fundamentalists,”[1] in describing the way progressives seek to use social and economic force to destroy those they deem enemies, my suggestion is that they are doing so because they are enacting on their religious beliefs.

But why treat progressivism as a religion rather than deal with the philosophies associated with progressivism? The answer is that much of what we think of as post-modernism changes the structure of western philosophy through ideas that were made popular by Michael Foucault in the academy, which in turn were derived from Nietsche and Marx. In most of western philosophy, ethics, the answer to questions related to “How then shall we live,” are rooted in metaphysics and epistemology. But Foucault instead argued that it all really come down to power, not truth.[2] For modern progressive, political power and identity take on the role that drives the rest of the philosophical and religious agenda.

But not only does political theory become the basis for their worldview, it becomes the means of salvation, as well, an eschatological hope founded by remolding society through the removal of all privilege, both those considered unjust (a justice that lacks any sense of merit other than holding progressive ideals) but also those inherent in giftedness. Progressive views are incommensurable with the classical liberalism that is typically called conservatism in the United States.

The problem with seeking heaven on earth, (besides other problems that are subjects of other columns) is that such a thing requires a view of human nature that is untenable. Such ideals and dreams have turned into the nightmares of the Soviet Union or Jonestown, precisely because the one undeniable truth of Christianity (by anyone who has done a half-way competent reading of history) is that the core problem in human civilization is that human beings are universally bad, and cannot be trusted with universal power. The problem with building a perfect civilization is that it will instantly cease to be perfect the moment a human being is included. Scripture warns, that a man who trusts in flesh, is cursed, history would seem to affirm Scripture’s judgment. The reason why so many projects like that of progressivism leads to totalitarianism is because it seeks perfect society without perfecting the human heart. Removing power from one person and giving it to another only leads to something better if the person gaining power is more virtuous than the person losing power, but the history of revolutions would tend to indicate that the bitterness and anger which lead to revolution only multiply sufferings, they do not alleviate them. It is only Christianity that offers a hope for a more just society by offering a more virtuous ruler in a future eschatological kingdom, a ruler for whose virtue is so great that He is able to communicate that virtue into his supplicants.

 

 

[1] This shows a general ignorance of the Christian fundamentalism but, again, that is a topic for another day.

[2] There are other essential ingredients and interpretational issues, but these are not listed to maintain some semblance of simplicity will be discussed later, perhaps. The can be understood by noting the role of power as the central concern in political theory.

Mass Shootings

So the news of the day involves the recent shootings in El Paso Texas, and Dayton Ohio, one by a racist who is being connected to Trump, one in Dayton Ohio to someone who, according to several news outlets, was a leftist who apparently supported Elizabeth Warren (this has not been covered as heavily as the political connections to the El Paso Shooting), and who also apparently had connections to the incel community. Naturally we have the debate in headlines that focused on politics. Yesterday, Joe Biden claimed Trump bears responsibility for “fanning the flames of White Supremacy” but noticeably, Joe, other Democrats and left wing outlets have been unwilling to give suggest outspoken democratic party members for speech for the 2017 congressional shooting, nor does the left discuss the Southern Poverty Law Center responsibility in the same terms for the mass shooting at the Family Research Council in 2012.

These issues always bring up discussions of gun control. It has been a few years, but the last I checked, gun bans in other countries do lead to fewer gun related homicides, but the overall homicide rates tend to dip only temporarily as other methods of murder become more prominent, and other crimes, including violent offenses such as sexual assaults or other crimes against women tend to go up. The goal of this site is not to discuss politics, nor gun control, but the gun control debate does illustrate something, gun control doesn’t solve this problem because it targets means, but what is needed isn’t a discussion of means it is the root cause (Republicans can in turn be very good at distinguishing the means from the causes, but while they make the distinction, they are never seem to actually get around to discussing the causes themselves). Mass shootings are a relatively new phenomenon, at least in the current incarnation. Yes, there have been shootings with innocent bystanders for years, stemming from mob wars, where “civilians” are in the field of fire between combatants, this happened at the St. Valentine’s day massacre, or during the late 80s war between different factions of the Columbo crime family, for example. Other actions of terrorism were about maintaining political power, such as the Klan, for example, always had goals that related to political power; such as the suppression of African Americans from voting. The closest thing to mass shootings in an earlier epoch would be bombings by Vietnam War protestors, but they were (ineffectively) taking actions they thought would undermine a war or to start a Marxist revolution of the proletariat. Even the Manson family had a political motive, albeit one based in a strange, drug induced interpretation of the Beatles’ White Album.

Modern mass shootings differ in terms of motives from other types of murders; they are not about profit or power, but become instead the ultimate means of expressing anger, hatred, frustration, and depression; they are often murder/suicides, the goal being to die and take out someone in the class of people the perpetrator believes is harming him. The earliest example I am aware of concerning this modern phenomenon of mass shootings was the Texas University Sniper in the 1966, but the phenomenon started in earnest during the Columbine shootings in the 90s. The phenomenon of mass shootings is frightening, usually happening in gun free zones, but given the ease with which information can be found on the internet, if guns were outlawed, and the statistics hold true, why should we think mass shootings would not be replaced by planting bombs in public places, such as happened at the Boston Marathon?

It seems, the one thing we don’t want to consider is that cultural changes, including the abandonment of Christianity. Mass shootings are a symptom of the ways our cultural values have become defective. No one wants to phrase it this way, we would, for example, rather discuss bullying in connection with school shootings. Personally, I was the victim of extensive bullying when I was in high school, and there were times I had to deal with a great deal of anger and resentment over that bullying. But I never considered taking something like a mass shooting, which I could have accessed, and shooting my tormenters. Nor did the countless potential army of victims generated from bullying that goes back generations. But that was before we abandoned the idea that man is made in the image of God, and before the widespread impacts of moral relativism, existentialism and post-modernism. This appears to be an especially attractive offering for the post modern that finds the dream is elusive, and unreal. Incels (involuntary celibates, a term a group of men who feel despair of ever finding connections with women) are perhaps the best example of this tendency. These millennial men are finding that the post-modern dream is a nightmare for anyone who is socially awkward and not what society considers attractive, many are turning to post-modernism’s ideological cousin, nihilism, as an outlet, and the results have been devastating not only to the incel community, but to a number of women who have been injured by this community.

 

I’m sure the politicians will use these tragedies to their advantage; I’m sure over the weeks and months we will find further grounds for political polarization in internet echo chambers, or in political speeches; extremism always being a problem only in the other party, as the political cycle whirls in a race to the bottom. But until America begins to recognize that this is a problem built in the background of our changing cultural mores, that mass shootings and other types of political violence are not issues of party (as both parties have their rhetorical bomb throwers), then we will continue to merely look at issues of means, rather than the root problem. We should be looking in a mirror, rather than looking at a political party.

Sam Harris: Afraid of Evolutionary Ethics

I recently read Sam Harris’s book, Letter to a Christian Nation, and like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, it reminds me of how the new atheists are the intellectual liliputians in the modern debate. Like Hitchens and Dawkins, he purports to prove there is no God, or no rational reason to believe in God, but his work is an example of cherry-picking, represents no actual interaction with his intellectual opponents, makes a number of errors and questionable comparisons, has shown no ability to work through where his own premises and presuppositions likewise demand development, but centers it all with a type of heavy-handed, venomous, hateful rhetoric that is reminiscent of some of the rhetoric of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin.

But, while the work has little to commend itself as an actual work of moral reasoning, he is an example, to a greater depth than Hitchens or Dawkins, of the self-refuting nature of the type of moralistic argument at the heart of the new atheists, what Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcy would describe as a dichotomy between facts and values that is so prevalent among western atheists. Harris notes, on slavery, “The moment a person recognizes that slaves are human beings like himself, enjoying the same capacity for suffering and happiness, he will understand that it is patently evil to own them and treat them like farm equipment.”[1] Yet, this is precisely the type of argument no reductive materialist arguing for an atheistic evolutionary theory has the grounds to make, in the first place.

That is, if we accept both that evolutionary theory is a sufficient explanation for the variety of life on the planet, and we accept that no divine architect ever interfered in that process, that no divine legislature designed the algorithm by which it does its works, and no God started the process off with the first bit of DNA, and if a slave is a human being like myself, who enjoys the same capacity for suffering and happiness, then he is a competitor with me for resources, and if I am to be successful, that means I must defeat competitors who would prevent me from securing resources. That is, if evolution is about survival and passing on one’s genes, then someone else’s happiness or suffering is unimportant, all that matters is my own survival and ability to pass along my own genes. Now, of course, it could be objected that humans are social and interdependent, and my survival depends on the flourishing of the group, fair enough, but this still does not make a moral case that I ought to worry about someone else’s happiness or suffering, it makes an instrumental case that in certain circumstances it is beneficial to my happiness and ability to pass on my genes to worry about someone else’s happiness, of course, this also means when circumstances change, its every man for himself.

This also goes for various claims about religious wars, this assumes that war is a morally bad thing, but again, an evolutionary naturalist has no grounds to think of war as anything other than competition for resources, and therefore, is not an evil in and of itself. It furthermore performs natures task, it winnows the weaker societies and individuals so there is more left for those who are more fit. His tirade against Christianity (as his book cannot be described with any term implying reason or logic) ultimately comes down to his embrace of an ethic that is ultimately in contradiction to his worldview. In other words, Harris is one of those atheists who believes that evolution is the cornerstone of the way the universe (not necessarily just biology) works, but on the other hand whose ethics shy away from the ethical ramifications of his own conclusions.

 

[1] Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006), 18-19

All’s Quiet on the Western Front

This blog might appear to have become dormant, and some may have thought I had given up on this project, but the truth is, I’ve been busy. Work, family and being a PhD candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have left my time limited, particularly since I am still recovering from a TBI nearly two years ago. My classwork is going well, and I am in the final stages of my program, facing comprehensive exams and a dissertation, this coming semester my focus will be writing a prospectus on why Old Testament slave codes are not a reason to reject Christianity (Leviticus 25:44-46 being an important point that many apologists overlook in their answers) answering from an analysis of Matthew 19:1-12. At some point I will be applying to teach apologetics in Christian higher education. I will still be very busy, and will not be able to write frequently.

But, besides the issue of time, this blog has not, precisely, been a successful one, at least in terms our culture would consider important. Very few posts are viewed by more than one or two people. I can often become more technical than I mean to be here, and apologetic blogs tend to appeal largely to those who are already engaged in apologetics, or places where a lot of debate is happening. What is more, good bloggers must be good marketers. I have the same relationship with marketing that I have with painting or good bluegrass: I can appreciate it, but I don’t have the skills to produce it. In the long run, I have two things I think Truth in the Trenches will need to be successful, first, this blog has always been a one man show; I am going to need help in the long run. Secondarily, I want to develop a podcast format, but something that is somewhat distinctive; some of my first ideas, for example, were too similar to Al Mohler’s excellent daily podcast to be distinctive enough to be useful.

Some might ask, why bother? Yet, I believe whatever path I have been down, God has led me. I trust this ministry will do what He intends it to do. In the long term, the challenges I list are not reasons to quit but reasons to find a better way to move this ministry forward. I will continue to make updates from time to time as I can. In the near term, I plan to post some position papers, starting with a general statement on Truth in the Trenches “niche,” they are outside of my usual fare for this site and will not, primarily be arguments. Rather they are intended to be useful both as documents I can use to secure a teaching position, and for deciding on what direction, and hopefully for what type of assistance to look for. But, the issue of my intermittent publications will remain in the short term, while I try to work out, in God’s time a different plan for this ministry. Truth in the Trenches is my ministry outlet, my attempt to be useful while still in school, and it may be a repository for work to come later as well as to test ideas and formulations, and if it is small now, well Dr. Bob Jones Senior once noted that the most important light in the house was the backhall light; while I work to find a way to make that light a little brighter and more useful, I will continue to at least use it as I can until those plans come to fruition.

Pro-Choice is Pro-Nazi

Abortion has been a big issue with Christians since the 1970s, when Roe v Wade, when the supreme court expanded federal power to regulate abortion laws, protecting abortion in the first trimester. Some among progressives have tried to argue this is a smokescreen for racism, but this is ultimately something of a conspiracy theory; I’m sure there are some racists that are pro-life (at least, for babies of the desired race), and in the seventies, the religious right existed in both parties; many Christians in the day (including my father) were “blue dog democrats” something that doesn’t seem to exist now. Nor did this lead to an immediate impact for the Republican party, many pro-lifers, for example, voted for Jimmy Carter.

But many today ask why Christians make so much of a big deal on the matter, arguing abortion is only one issue. Why, for example, would we say that being prochoice results in an automatic refusal to receive my vote—my own policy on the issue? The answer can be rephrased this way, I would vote for someone who is prochoice only in those circumstances where I would vote for Hitler as they are ideologically aligned. Many will think this is some extreme statement of political rhetoric, others simply treat this as old hat, and a version of the ad Hitlerium logical fallacy. Now it is true that the ad Hitlerium fallacy is a serious error in reasoning regularly committed in American politics (particularly by progressives), but the problem is, this only works as a fallacy when the comparison is between accidental similarities of policy, rhetoric or presentation rather than essential issues of worldview. That is, it is a logical fallacy to compare the haircut of a candidate, a style of speech or dress, or party organization. Similarly, an expansion of the freeway system (the autobahn being a Nazi contribution), or implementation of socialism are similarities of policy that may be accidental to Nazism rather than essential.

My point, however, is that the core commitments of the prochoice movement are derived principles that are also essential elements of Nazism, that is, the prochoice movement replicates a version of arguments for core Nazi principles, specifically the rationale for the final solution. There are two points of comparison to make. The first was the belief that Jews, Slavs and “easterners” were “sub-human.” That is, Nazis argued that certain racial groups were really not human beings, they were instead closer to apes. Therefore, the Nazis argued that Jews must be killed and Slavs were fit for only slave labor. The prochoice version of this argument comes in two forms, initially there was the direct one, that a baby in the womb (or increasingly an infant) is not human; this was the terminology as I was coming up. Often, for example describing it as a parasite (which is similar but in an accidental way that Nazis spoke of Jewish economic activities). Yet because this is not compatible with the findings of science, it faces severe criticism. A human fetus differs from a two year old child in the same way that a two year old child differs from an adult, that is, the two may be in different stages of development, but there is no fundamental difference between the two. Therefore, because science essentially nullifies that argument, a new version of this Neo-Nazi argument was developed, which argues that there is a difference between being human and being a person.

This second version is a representation of the first one, it dehumanizes infants in the same way the Nazis dehumanized the Jews. This claim is defended with our other point of comparison between the pro-choice movement and the Nazis. The first systematic round of state-sponsored murders committed by the Nazis was not against Jews or Slavs, it was the pursuit of racial hygiene to remove the “unfit” members of society from the genepool. The arguments for the killing varied, but always focused on the physical or mental fitness of the individual, including the level of intelligence. These unfit members were considered a waste of German resources, as a result of their infirmities. This point of Nazi ideology has been brought in by prochoice thinkers to defend “personhood” arguments to defend person/human dichotomy. Most notably, the use of IQ has become a major litmus test to define personhood, thus not only human fetuses, but humans in comas or those with conditions such as Downs Syndrome or more severe cognitive malfunctions are not “persons.” In some cases, like the Nazis these murders are sanction as merciful. Similarly, intellectual criterion were part of the argument to dehumanize Eastern European Jews and Poles.

That is, to put it bluntly, the prochoice crowd, to makes its case (and salves the conscience), with the same type of language and rationale to dehumanize human beings as the Nazis did. This is a point where the philosophical essentials of the pro-choice agenda and the Nazi party are the same, rather than being accidental similarities. While it is true that many politicians have no power to end abortion on demand (say for example, a member of the House of Representatives), it also demonstrates something of the person’s ethical. We would not vote for a member of the Aryan nation for city government on the rationale that they would not be able to institute major Nazi idealogies (no matter what we might think of their economic policies), we would argue that their adherence to Nazism proved them ethically unfit for office. This is my opinion of any pro-choice candidates, I don’t vote for modern Hitlers.