Abortion and Worldviews

Abortion and the clash of worldviews

June 7, 2012
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst

Originally published September 9, 2004

Debates about abortion are often very heated because they involve a head-on collision of worldviews. Abortion cannot be supported within the internal logic of the Christian worldview. Laws against abortion cannot be supported within the internal logic of the worldview of liberal postmodernism. Opponents of abortion know that they are defending unborn babies, but may not be aware that they are also defending the Christian worldview. Supporters of legalized abortion know that they are defending a "woman's right to choose" but may not be aware that they are also defending the postmodern worldview.

A worldview governs what we see as we look at the world, how we interpret and evaluate what we see, how we see ourselves, and how we assign meaning to life. The collapse of one's worldview is extremely traumatic. David Horowitz describes this trauma in his books
 Radical Son and Left Illusions.He was once a leader of the New Left but got disillusioned with Marxism in the seventies and suffered from ten years of depression before he reemerged as a conservative. Thus, people instinctively fear threats to their worldview, even if they do not realize that they have a worldview. The abortion debate is a challenge to one's worldview, so it can bring out all the defenses of paranoia and hysteria.

Horowitz said, "I am persuaded that a lie grounded in human desire is too powerful for reason to penetrate." This is especially true if the person is a narcissist. Thus, Horowitze explains why the left fights so hard to protect its irrational myths. It seems to me this is especially true about abortion. The desire for sexual promiscuity without consequences is a fantasy of hedonism and narcissism. Abortion terminates the "consequences" and thus offers to the narcissist a solution to his desire to dispense with the inconvenient consequences of promiscuous sex. But one has to deny that a dead baby is a consequence of moral significance, in order to get what he wants without accountability. It threatens his worldview when his actions and his denials are brought under moral scrutiny. Therefore, he must discredit all who make such threats.

Abortion — a microcosm of the culture war

The abortion debate can help us understand the nature of the opposing worldviews. The conflict is like a microcosm of the greater culture war.

If a person looks favorably upon the sexual revolution, defends sexual promiscuity and perversion, and rejects traditional concepts of marriage, family, and sexual responsibility, they will invariably support abortion. The women's liberation movement and the Playboy philosophy are both solidly behind abortion. Women's liberation careerists may find having a baby inconvenient to their careers. Playboy womanizers may find babies inconvenient to their plans for adultery. Materialists might find babies inconvenient to their accumulation of wealth and free time to play with their expensive toys. Moral relativism based upon subjective feelings is an ally of abortion. Evolutionary materialists think that the life in the womb is just a biological tissue and therefore they favor abortion on demand. What is the big deal, they wonder, in cutting out some protoplasm?

The culture war has many battle fronts. Those who take the liberal postmodern or counter-cultural side of one or more of these fronts are very likely to support legalized abortion. This is because the worldview that sees abortion in a favorable light also leads to morally dysfunctional reasoning about many other issues.

If a voter does not know much about a political candidate, the candidate's stand on abortion can serve as a rough barometric reading about their general worldview and moral compass. For example, the worldview of a Republican moderate may be difficult to assess, but if he candidly expresses his views on abortion, it can give us a general sense about whether or not he leans towards the Christian worldview or to a secular and pragmatic view of life.
 

A seeming moderate whose politics are disconnected from his worldview may have nothing more than a vague residual respect for traditional values to keep him from sliding rapidly to the left. When subjected to constant pressure, his weak defense against radical ideas can collapse suddenly. This is what has happened to the Episcopal Church. Some of their moderates resisted gay marriage on the grounds of tradition instead of the authority of scripture and a well developed Christian worldview. Some of this resistance collapsed rather suddenly. A vague and nostalgic love of tradition is no match against the fiercely demanding counter-culture. I have witnessed moderate Republicans suddenly turn into accommodating wimps when confronted by militant pro-abortion and gay "marriage" radicals. I have witnessed other moderate Republicans stand fast on these issues if their backbone is fortified by a Christian worldview. Such men do not waffle, pander, or accommodate about the abortion of babies.

Abortion: the opening gun of the culture war

The sexual revolution began as a counter-cultural movement. As the movement began to emerge from the underground in the late sixties, it brought the abortion issue to the fore. The lust for unlimited promiscuous sex without consequences was the impetus behind the early fight for abortion. The contentious and politicalized abortion debate brought the sexual revolution advocates into the fray. The arbitrary decree of the Supreme Court to legalize abortion in 1973 was the opening shot of the culture war. Legions of Evangelicals, Catholics, moralists, and family values, defenders were awakened from their long slumber by the startling court decision.

The sexual revolution quickly spread from the campuses to the teen culture, the urban culture of the cities, and the media. After abortion was legalized, the annual number of abortions in America grew very quickly until it reached one and a half million per year. Abortion seemed to remove the consequences of irresponsible sex, and this triggered a tidal wave of sexual immorality. As the sexual revolution and abortion were sweeping the nation during the 70's, the postmodern worldview, imported from Europe, was quickly adopted by many. It sanctioned sexual license purely for personal pleasure and abortion as the escape hatch from sexual responsibility. It disconnected sex from procreation and family. Starting from this core of radical hedonism, many of the other categories of postmodern liberalism took shape, along with a set of rationalizations for an alternative morality. American postmodernism and the culture war crystalized in the 70's. The culture war has had a run of over thirty years and is still heating up.

The American holocaust

Abortion is the American holocaust. A holocaust is a great conflagration. Each year and a half, babies are thrown into a bonfire before the altar of hedonism, narcissism, and selfish convenience. It is a moral earthquake. What human conscience can rest while the babies are consumed in the flames? There can be no cultural or spiritual peace during a holocaust.

In like manner, there was no peace or rest in America until the slavery issue was settled. Twenty percent of the populace was in shackles in the land of the free. From the founding of the Republic to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, fourscore and seven years elapsed of an unremitting culture war. Thomas Jefferson said that the slavery issue terrified him like "an alarm bell in the night" signaling a holocaust. He was the prototype of a morally sensitive soul who cannot sleep during a holocaust.

In fine, the abortion controversy is 1) a microcosm of the culture war, 2) the historical wedge issue that precipitated the culture war, and 3) the ongoing American holocaust that keeps the morally sensitive on edge and perpetuates our culture war.

If you believe that 1) man is a created being and has a nature determined by an intelligent and purposeful design, and 2) man is an immortal spirit being which inhabits a mortal body, and 3) there is a universal moral law governing life, marriage, sexual activity, and the family, you will probably oppose abortion. If you believe that 1) man has been randomly evolved and has no fixed nature or design, and 2) man is purely a physical animal and/or a material machine, and 3) morality is culturally or individually determined, or if a politically correct elite determines right and wrong, you will probably favor abortion on demand. Here we see the Christian worldview diametrically opposed to the postmodern worldview on three precisely defined propositions.

Notice how both of the three-point clusters represent a unified and internally consistent worldview. The three points are interlocking parts of a whole. Also notice how each of the three points of the Christian worldview directly contradicts a corresponding point in the postmodern worldview.

If a worldview can be likened to a temple, it has essential supporting pillars. Let us consider the three corresponding points as pillars of two temples. Knock out any of the three pillars and the temple falls. These "temples" have other pillars — other fundamental beliefs — as well. But these three pillars are at risk in the culture war. They represent points of direct collision between the opposing worldviews.

The two temples cannot coexist. If pillar #1 of the Christian temple stands and is reaffirmed, pillar #1 of the Postmodern temple must fall, and vice versa. If pillar #1 falls, pillars #2 and #3 must also fall. If all three pillars fall, the "temple" must fall. Either the Christian worldview must collapse or the postmodern worldview must collapse. The two armies of the culture war are fighting to defend their own temple and destroy their enemy's temple. They must continue fighting until one of the temples is destroyed.

You might ask why the two worldviews cannot coexist. The abortion issue cannot go away until it is resolved. That is the nature of a holocaust. It keeps the two worldviews in constant conflict.

If the Christian worldview wins, Western Civilization can be saved. If the Postmodern worldview wins, we are probably doomed — because of the irrational, amoral, and suicidal nature of the Postmodern worldview. We are in a war to save civilization. If ever there was a fight against the forces of evil, this is it.

If we give in to calls for "tolerance," we will lose. The other side has no tolerance for us and will show us no quarter. In a fight to the death, a demand for "tolerance" is the equivalent of saying "roll over and play dead, so we can kill you in peace."

In
 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch had to fight a big bruiser with a knife. Butch said, "We have to talk about the rules." The amazed opponent relaxed for a second, and shouted "Rules in a knife fight!? During that lull, Butch kicked the guy in the place that the sun don't shine. This was a dirty trick and a sleazy way of fighting, of course. Demanding "tolerance" in a culture war is this kind of dirty trick. Whenever you hear the word "tolerance," put your guard up. A cheap shot may be just about to come your way.

Is the baby a human being?

If the baby in the womb has a human design, then he is a human being and a person. We know that every cell of the baby's body contains the DNA genetic code that is the design for the baby to grow up to be an adult human being as a unique person. The baby is a human being. It is absurd to say that the baby with a complete set of DNA does not have a human nature.

Some evolutionists claim that at a certain stage of development an embryonic baby is no more than a fish. Old illustrations by Haeckel in standard textbooks are rigged to show that the stages of development of the embryo in the womb are reenactments of the stages of human evolution. Haeckel's illustrations were exposed as a fraud long ago but still sometimes appear in science textbooks. The evolutionists cheat. No such evolutionary resemblances exist in the womb. Even if there was an apparent similarity (which there is not), it would be purely superficial. The embryonic baby does not and cannot have the design of a fish, or a lizard, or a chicken as he is morphing towards humanness. The creature in the womb is an embryonic man or woman because from the moment of conception, he or she has the complete DNA of a unique man or a woman — a DNA design that will be fixed for life.

Much is at stake in these wrangles. If the baby in the womb is like a lizard, a fish, or a chicken, then killing the baby is not murder. It is the moral equivalent of killing a lizard, a fish, or a chicken. But this is absurd. The baby in the womb is a human being. Killing the baby is murder.

A second line of attack is that man is nothing but an animal body. The mind is just brain activity. The will, conscience, and consciousness are merely epiphenomena of the brain. These ideas do not come from the empirical data of science. All we know from the data is that there is some kind of link been certain kinds of thinking and certain kinds of brain activity. It is not science, but the philosophy of materialism and naturalism that impels some scientists to jump to the hasty conclusion that the mind cannot be any more than brain activity. Such presumption rules out the possibility of a non-physical component to the mind. Notice how one's worldview governs how one interprets the empirical data.

The spiritual person in the womb

If man has a spirit, then part of what it means to be human and a person is found in the spiritual side of man. I happen to believe that the core of personhood is situated in the spirit and expressed as personality through the psyche and the body. It is the person as a spiritual being which lives on after the body dies. The human spirit does not require a body to have existence. The body does not support the spirit. Therefore, there is no reason why a spirit cannot exist in tandem with an embryonic baby in the womb. Even if the embryo is only a fertilized egg, there is no reason why a spirit being cannot form a connection with the biological entity. If God designed us to be a spiritual-material hybrid being, there must of necessity be an appointed time of the joining of spirit and matter. At that moment of synthesis, the new person comes into being.
 "And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2: 7). Bible scholars equate the breath of God with the impartation of spiritual life. Jesus used the same word "pneuma" for wind, breath, and spirit.

We cannot know for sure exactly when and how God brings the body and spirit together. But since the spirit person is not dependent for support on the body, it is possible, if not probable, that the joining of body and spirit occurs at conception.

If this is true, then abortion cuts off a spiritual person from entering the world and having an identity on earth. The disembodied spirit, exiled from its body by a violent crime against his body, must enter the eternal state without ever setting foot on earth. All of the designed properties that were provided to him for an earthly journey and a temporal destiny are rudely cut off and thrown into a clinic wastebasket. God's earthly purposes for that life are thwarted. The person's destiny is eternally diminished. For all eternity, he will exist as a being that has had part of his destiny stolen from him. This cosmic crime was committed against him while he was in an innocent, helpless, and trusting state. He is expelled from this life by a violent rejection of him by his mother, the very one on whom he was designed to depend for love, nurture, and protection. His spiritual heart was reaching to her for aid and succor and she disposed of him like so much garbage. The spirit person in the womb has consciousness and an intuitive awareness of all these things. This must be true because it is a being designed for life in heaven as a conscious person.

The developing mind

We have talked of man as a body and a spirit. Man also has a mind. Perhaps the mind is a hybrid entity involving a mixture of brain and spirit. If this be so, it would elegantly explain why the human mind is so different in quality from the animal mind.

Many justify abortion by claiming that the fetus has no mind or has a primitive mind, and therefore is not human. This argument is entirely based on the assumption that the mind equals the brain and nothing more. But this is something assumed and unproven. If spirit exists, there can be a spirit mind in the womb.

We do know that the mind is developmental and that mental development has physical parallels to developing brain activities. If you accept the assumption that the human mind is unique in quality, then each stage of development of the human mind is unique to man. A severely retarded human mind must be different in quality from the mind of a chimpanzee. If man has a design and a chimpanzee has a different design, a difference in mental quality must exist. This difference in mental quality must necessarily exist in each of the developmental stages in the womb. Even a microscopic embryo must have a living primitive prototype from which a uniquely human mind can develop. If you destroy the embryo, you destroy the living prelude to a human mind with a unique design.

Conclusion

The most compelling argument against abortion is that it cuts off a person's destiny which was designed by God for life on this earth. It is an impiety against the Creator and a grave crime against the individual person who has been cut off from his earthly destiny. It is also a grotesque and unnatural act of violence. And finally, it is a rejection of the Christian worldview. Any professing Christian of orthodox doctrine who accepts abortion must suffer the collapse of his Christian worldview.

The postmodern liberals will fight us bitterly about abortion even it means defaming and persecuting us. Their sexual pleasures and freedom from moral accountability are at stake. Their worldview is at stake. If they give in on abortion, their worldview will collapse. This would be psychologically debilitating for them. They might suffer years of depression like David Horowitz did when his Marxist worldview collapsed.

Fortunately, Christ is willing to forgive those who are truly repentant of their sins, even the sin of abortion. Their burden of guilt can be lifted and the defilement of sin can be washed away through the blood Christ shed on the cross. Christ can heal the depression of those with collapsed worldviews. A new Christian worldview can fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the postmodern worldview. After the old lies and deceptions are swept away, one can experience the liberating power of truth.
 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Words of Christ, John 8:32).


A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with
 Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty.
 Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

 

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