No free Lunch. Everybody is doing religion!
If you only argument against the pro-life view is to dismiss it as religious you've not done your homework. You need to work a little harder.
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 Welcome friends to the Case for Life podcast. I’m your host, Scott Klusendorf. We aim to help you defend your pro-life views persuasively, and be sure to visit us on our social media sites. And again, thanks to pro-life training.com or Life Training Institute for sponsoring this particular episode. As they do all of them, we are grateful.

Be sure to visit that site for more references. Today I want to go into something that has come up in quite a bit of a heated debate online I have seen many times now in the last couple of weeks this particular claim. Pro lifers, you are cristo fascist. You just want to impose your religious beliefs on everyone else.

Your arguments are inherently religious. Therefore, they have no place in the public square and how dare you impose your private religious beliefs on those who disagree. That is the essence of the argument we’re getting more and more as I survey websites and discussion forums. And I want to take a little time today to talk about why that particular claim is not persuasive.

I realize it’s very prominent in the public square, but it is not persuasive. Now, it’s true that pro lifers offer an argument for their view. And that argument is either sound or unsound, valid or invalid. If you call an argument religious, you’ve dodged the argument. You haven’t refuted it. So let’s look at the pro life argument.

Premise one, it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Premise two, abortion intentionally kills innocent human beings. Conclusion. Therefore, abortion is wrong. Now, it is possible pro lifers are mistaken about that. However, it does not show that our argument is sound or unsound, valid or invalid, by simply calling it a name.

You’ve got to do the hard work of actually refuting it. And the religious dismissal is just that, a dismissal. You’ve got to do better than that. Now, another thing, just because the pro life argument is consistent with Christian theism does not mean only Christian theists can understand the argument or engage it.

In fact, uh, it’s very easy to point out that all positions on abortion assume a metaphysical starting point, and I’ll explain why this is true. When anybody says to me, hey, your argument is just religious as a pro lifer, my first question is, what do you mean by religion? And inevitably they’re going to come back and say, well, religion involves comprehensive doctrines about reality, the way the world is, that you can’t prove empirically.

They are metaphysical in nature. And because they’re comprehensive doctrines that aren’t provable, they have no place in the public square. Okay. Let’s accept that definition. for the moment. My next question is this. Can you tell me why anything has value and a right to life? And inevitably, the answer to that question from my critic will be some sort of comprehensive doctrine about the nature of human beings, what makes them valuable in the first place, you know, and our place in the universe as human beings.

It will inevitably be a comprehensive metaphysical claim about the nature of human beings that this person is putting forward as being true. And I want to make something really clear here. My point in all of this is not to say that non believers need to start making religious claims. My point is they already are.

Everybody is. And here’s why. Everybody brings a worldview to the abortion debate. There’s no exception to this. Everybody brings certain presuppositions to the table when they talk about abortion, and those presuppositions are inherently metaphysical in nature, or what we would call religious, if you will.

They all involve assumptions about the comprehensive nature of reality. The nature of human beings, the nature of knowledge, the nature of reality, the nature of ethics. These are all things that can’t be proved by empirical investigation. They are metaphysical in nature, meaning beyond the sciences, so to speak.

So let me give you an example of this. Every worldview that’s out there, whether it’s philosophical naturalism, Christian theism, uh, Eastern religions, um, postmodernism, the woke worldview, it doesn’t matter which worldview perspective you bring to the table, you are asking five key questions. Number one, you’re asking questions about metaphysics, namely, What is the nature of reality?

What’s ultimately real? Secondly, you are asking questions about epistemology, meaning knowledge. How do we know things? What counts as knowledge and what doesn’t? Thirdly, you’re asking questions, questions about ethics. What’s right? What’s wrong? How do we know the difference? And what’s the fix for the problems we have?

Fourthly, you’re asking questions of anthropology, what we call philosophical anthropology. What does it mean to be human, and what makes humans valuable in the first place? Finally, you’re asking questions about cosmology. Where did we come from as human beings? Where are we going? What’s the ultimate destination for the human race?

Okay, now all five of those questions are inherently religious. There’s no escaping it. And it doesn’t matter whether your worldview is philosophical naturalism or Christian theism, postmodernism, or critical theory. You are inevitably answering those five questions with your worldview. And to say that it’s only the pro life side that’s bringing religion into this debate is simply false.

Everybody is. There’s no free lunch here. Everybody is doing metaphysics. Everybody is asking inherently religious questions. So let’s apply this to the abortion debate. In the abortion debate, You have basically two rival views of the human person colliding with each other. The pro life worldview, which we will call the endowment view, which borrows from Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, and, of course, the biblical view of the Imago Dei, basically says this.

Your value as a human being is not grounded in what you can do in terms of performance or function. You are valuable in virtue of the kind of thing you are, not some trait you can immediately exercise like self awareness, the ability to feel pain, or the ability to live independent of another human being, seeing yourself existing over time, or whatever other trait people pick out.

That worldview, that pro life view of the human person, which we will call the endowment view, is indeed a religious view. But so is the rival view. The rival view, which we will call the performance view, or the functionalist view, goes like this. Being human is nothing special. The only thing that matters is whether you’re a person with immediately exercisable traits like self awareness, seeing yourself existing over time, the ability to interact with others, um, the ability to have, uh, a sense of morality, whatever they pick out.

The point is this, notice that both sides of the abortion debate. pro life and pro abortion choice are asking the same exact question. What makes us valuable in the first place? That question is inherently religious. There’s no getting around it. And whether you’re a philosophical naturalist or a Christian theist, you’re going to answer that question in a way that can’t be proven empirically through the hard sciences.

So you are doing metaphysics at that point. And so my point is simply this. If everyone in this debate is doing metaphysical reflection on a question of philosophical anthropology, why is it only the pro life view gets disqualified as religious, while everybody else in their worldview gets a free pass?

That’s unfair, and that is not intellectually honest, when everybody in the debate is asking the same exact question. question. What makes humans valuable in the first place? And again, that question is not going to be answered by the sciences. It’s going to be answered by your philosophical worldview that you’ve brought to the table.

No getting around that. Now, of course, the immediate claim is, well, if you say a fetus has value and a right to life, that is religious, Yes. It’s no more religious than saying it doesn’t have a right to life. Again, both questions are, or both sides are answering the question, what makes us valuable in the first place?

Can you tell me, I like to ask critics, can you tell me why a 10 year old has value and a right to life? Can you do that without invoking some metaphysical worldview about the human person? And of course the answer is no. You can’t tell me why anything has value and a right to life, whatever its stage of development, without bringing into the discussion some comprehensive view of the human person that is inherently religious in nature.

Now one comeback to this is to say that pro lifers are the only ones trying to impose their view of the person on society, and we should not do that because we need a separation of church and state, and pro lifers should not be trying to impose a theocracy on people who disagree. Well, let me be clear.

I don’t want a theocracy any either. I don’t want that at all. In fact, if I was given a choice between a candidate who believed in God and essentially lined up with my theological beliefs, but that candidate did not believe that it was wrong to beat your spouse, I would vote against that candidate in favor of an atheist who said you can’t beat your spouse.

That’s wrong. So I don’t want a theocracy. I do want candidates that will best promote human value and human flourishing at all stages of life, whether in the womb or out, but I don’t want someone who’s theologically in line with me and just wants to impose their theological views, if those views that candidate has do not line up with Biblical truth on other points, like making sure we protect all human life.

That would be a something I don’t want. I don’t want a theocracy. I want a candidate who upholds justice for the weak and vulnerable, including those that are in the womb. And also, I think we need to ask the question, what do we mean by church and state? Okay, I agree, let’s separate church and state, but how do we mean that?

Do we mean it in the strong sense that religious believers do not get to participate in their own government like everybody else does? Do you mean that Believers don’t get to bring their values to the public square and argue for them like everybody else does. If you mean it that way, I oppose what you mean by separation of church and state.

But if you mean it in the more modest sense, that the federal government should not mandate a state denomination or state church that you have to be part of, well then of course I agree with you, because I don’t want the federal government telling me you have to be a Christian theist to be a citizen.

That’s obviously not something I want. And by the way, it’s interesting, it’s the Christian worldview that actually puts up the guardrails against that kind of tyranny because the Christian worldview tells us to live at peace with our fellow citizens. As much as possible, get along with them. Do your best to help love them and, and help them flourish.

The Christian worldview guards against that kind of view. It’s actually the more secular views. That are driving the cancel culture, driving this idea that we want to shut people up that don’t agree with leftist ideology. That’s not something you’re seeing the right do. The Christian theist does not want to censor views that disagree with his view.

I have never heard a pro life leader say, I want to go out and make it illegal for those who don’t agree with me to have a voice in this culture. And yet you will hear people who are pro abortion say, well, Christian theists have no right to impose their views because they’re inherently religious. Well, we’ve already shown that that’s really not the case.

That’s not what’s going on here. And yet this does have to change. have to be addressed because there’s a lot of people today that think this is nothing but a religious thing that pro lifers are doing. And again, just to reiterate the main point here, I’m not trying to tell non believers you have to use religious arguments.

I’m saying you already are. Whether you realize it or not, everybody is. Why don’t we just be honest about it? We’re all bringing worldview assumptions to the table. Let’s not try to dismiss one side with a dismissal rather than doing the hard work of refuting your argument. I would add one other thing here.

Pro life advocates are not imposing their morals on anyone. They’re proposing their moral views in hopes that their fellow citizens will agree with them. And vote to protect the unborn. By the way, that’s how a constitutional republic like ours functions. We are not a pure democracy where simple majority carries the day.

No, we’re a constitutional republic and citizens of all worldviews. have equal rights to bring their views to the public square and argue for them as best they know how. That’s how a constitutional republic ought to function if the citizens are to flourish, and pro lifers have a place at the table, just like those who are pro abortion choice have a place at the table.

Censoring a view and saying, oh, you don’t get to participate because you’re religious, when your own view is inherently religious as well, is intellectually dishonest. Um, I think at the end of the day, what’s really going on here is people are using the religious claim to ramrod their view through and silence their critics.

It’s not a well thought out view and it’s not one that I find persuasive at all. Well, thanks for joining us today. I look forward to seeing you next time. Again, please visit us on our social media sites. Or go to prolifetraining. com, the website of Life Training Institute, the prime sponsor of this show.

I look forward to seeing you next time.