Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bad Ideas Have Really Bad Consequences

The horrors of Planned Parenthood, exposed by the video releases by the Center for Medical Progress (the 10th being released today), are inevitable consequences of the worldview that created the organization. People are rightly shocked  to hear what they do to babies crushed to death in their mother's womb, or pulled out in-tact in their amniotic sacs and cut to pieces, or born alive and then scissored open to harvest organs while the heart is still beating. But in one very important sense they should not be surprised by the news.  For a long time large parts of the Western world looked on in shocked disbelief at the discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, but in one sense they should have been prepared for their existence.

It has been said a million times and deserves saying a million times more because people simply do not believe that it is true: ideas have consequences. And, logically speaking, bad ideas can have bad - really bad - consequences. Some consequences are an unfortunate and non sequitur extension of big ideas, and in those cases the ideas may not be directly responsible for the outcomes. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the way in which the Crusades are connected to Christian theology is just such an example. However, there are situations in which the consequence is directly linked to the idea (or ideology) in such a way as to allow someone to react to the consequence by thinking, "We should have seen that coming." In other words, that person is entirely rational in predicting an outcome before we know it, and may be able to do so with a surprising degree of accuracy.

(Some insightful historical research is being done linking Darwin to the more radical evils of the 20th Century, including Sanger's work.)

The destruction and sale of human body parts by Planned Parenthood is such a situation. The Progressive, eugenic agenda upon which PP is founded is so blatantly horrific that it is often actively suppressed and always deliberately blurred so as to hide its founding principles. Margaret Sanger wanted to kill as many of the poor, blacks, Italian Catholics, and Jews as possible, so she founded an organization to do just that. Additionally, what has been called Progressivism in America for just over a century is fundamentally secularist, strenuously rejecting any religious or ethical principles which may impose themselves upon our behavior from outside the ideology. When an idea/movement as powerful as Progressivism does that for as long as it does, we ought not be surprised when its most devoted followers take matters into their own hands and do things normal people thought were unthinkable.

Secularism Eventually Deteriorates Into Crass Individualistic Relativism
Here, I use "secularism" in two ways, one strong and the other weak. The weak version of secularism is the belief that individuals have the right to hold to religious beliefs as long as they know those beliefs have no bearing on the public square and our common lives. You can be a Christian all you want, just do it by yourself. The strong version may also be called metaphysical naturalism - the position that holding religious beliefs is irrational because no such thing as God exists. In either case secularism seeks to disconnect itself from ethics rooted in theology, and in both cases, public morality is reduced to a matter of power and propaganda and dying vestigial folkways and mores. The religious believer, qua religious believer, is squeezed out of the public square in favor of some other more so-called scientific and secularist form of morality.

When a culture unchains itself from the sun it will playact at a public morality for a period of time, but it will not be long before things begin to unravel at the edges. Publicly it will be assumed that people obey some form of culturally acceptable moral codes, often borrowed from its religious roots, but people are smarter and more morally devious than Progressives want to believe so they begin to stray from the agenda and do things their own way. Then it turns out that because we severed ourselves from any objective form of public morality, we quickly discover there is no compelling authority which has the ability to stop the horror show. Every answer to the secularist/cultural relativist can legitimately be a dismissive, "sez who?"

Secularism Inevitably Leads To The Devaluation of Human Beings
In order to protect the most vulnerable among us we need a way of grounding human dignity in places beyond current public opinion. If we can't do that, then certain classes of humans will become disposable nuisances. This has played itself out hundreds, even thousands, of times in human history in every conceivable form from the rampant enslavement of one group of people by another to a multitude of attempts at genocide. If humans qua humans do not have dignity and value, then humans are conferred value by an individual's decision or the public's current mood. This does not bode well for humans at the margin, and so it is today for humans in the womb and humans at death's door.

In order to avoid the horror show of Planned Parenthood, people need a theology of human personhood that speaks to an inherent and invaluable worth that cannot be conferred or removed by any individual or institution. Only then can humans at the margin be protected in the long term. But here again, secularism has served to remove that pillar out from underneath our culture's foundation and we are witnessing our own holocaust as a result.

The idea we need is the Christian valuation of human beings – every human is created in the image of God and is of un-measurable worth. No human being, no matter what stage of life, deserves to be torn apart for research and profit.

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