Sunday, March 21, 2010



“And I think this is a ridiculous example of the slippery slope fallacy.”

i) I didn’t use a slippery slope argument.

ii) Moreover, we’re already at the bottom of the slope. Judges have been dictating social policy for decades now. So this isn’t hypothetical.

iii) Furthermore, if you think judges have the prerogative to fabricate rights and strike down acts of Congress, then that’s not a slippery slope. Rather, you have actually conferred that prerogative on the counts. Once again, this isn’t hypothetical.

So before you bandy the word “fallacy,” try to avoid raising fallacious objections yourself.

“Look, when you ask whether the Bible has something to say about the abortion controversy, do you say ‘The Bible doesn't say anything about abortion. Nobody tried to get an abortion that is recorded, and we don't have God's reaction to it. So let's just be silent where the Bible is silent.’ Of course not. You brought up something about children being a gift from God, and that that should motivate Christians to not get abortions.”

I see that your memory is failing you as usual. I didn’t attempt to discuss all the exegetical considerations in the abortion debate in part because I’ve already plugged OPC and PCA reports on that issue in the past. Why is your memory such a sieve?

By I also wanted to introduce a different argument.

“The penumbra of those Scripture passages makes your case against abortion.”

Of course, the “penumbra” was a vague and fanciful metaphor which William O. Douglas had to conjure up to tease nonexistent rights out of the Constitution.

“The anti-abortion conclusions aren't strictly entailed. You have to allow for plausible extrapolations from a text if you want the text to be relevant to present-day life.”

Except that we can’t begin with “relevance” and then reverse-engineer a text from the past to pretend that it speaks to an issue even if it doesn’t.

In Protestant theology, the sufficiency of Scripture doesn’t mean that Scripture answers every ethical question we can pose. Scripture is silent on some issues. In those cases, that’s a point of liberty. It’s okay to use reason if revelation is silent.

“But the ‘penumbra’ has got to be plausible. You can't just operate out of thin air.”

Which is precisely what judicial activists are guilty of doing.

“Same with the Trinity. Is the Trinity strictly entailed by the New Testament? Perhaps not, but it provides us with the best and most sensible interpretation of what we find there.”

That’s equivocal. The question is the level of detail.

“Let's take the Griswold case with contraceptives. The Court thought that if the authors of the Constitution intended to protect citizens' privacy in the case of search and seizure, that they were implying a right to privacy which would be violated by laws forbidding contraceptives. This may be a bad extrapolation, but I have trouble accepting the objection to it on the grounds that it is an extrapolation.”

The right to purchase contraceptives is not a logical inference from the Fourth Amendment.

“New situations arise. The Pill wasn't invented when the Bill of Rights was written.”

Victor, that’s what the legislative branch is for. Why do you disregard the obvious?

Contraception needn’t be a Constitutional right to be legal.

i) To begin with, something does need to be Constitutional right or even a civil right to be legal.

For example, it’s legal for me to buy pâté de foie gras. That doesn’t mean I have a Constitutional right to buy pâté de foie gras, or even a civil right to do so.

Victor, you constantly demonstrate your inability to reason like a philosopher. You simply frame issues in terms of your social conditioning. Because issues like contraception are conventionally framed in terms of a Constitutional entitlement, you’re incapable of taking a step back and asking yourself if that’s rational way to cast the issue. Instead, you just default to popular convention.

Why don’t you start approaching political issues like a philosopher rather than a partisan?

ii) Moreover, state legislatures can legalize/decriminalize contraception. Or, failing that, Congress can do so.

“What I'm criticizing here certainly isn't any opposition to Roe, about which I have considerably mixed feelings. (If it were up to me, late-term fetuses would be declared to have a right to life under the 14th Amendment).”

Saved in the nick of time.

“The Court is appointed by the President and nominations are ratified by Congress. Members of the court can be impeached. I don't think you can go from the acceptability of extrapolation to ‘anything goes, and the Court is omnipotent.’”

Like a tin pot dictator who’s elected President-for-Life, viz. Idi Amin, Papa Doc Duvalier.

“If you have a text that comes down to us from another era, you have new situations that weren't envisaged in the original document. However, there are still underlying principles from the text that can be applied.”

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. An uninspired document necessarily reflects the shortsighted historical horizon of the framers. That’s one reason we have a legislative branch.

“Steve: what I asked was precisely what the expression ‘children are a gift from God’ means in context, and I was asking for some exegetical development on that claim. You then want to know if I deny the claim.”

The status of children as a gift from isn’t something which should even be controversial among Christians.

“I'm also not comfortable with the idea in democracies religious majorities should feel free to shove religious beliefs down the throats of religious minorities.”

i) Now you’re backpedaling. In your previous objection you said “Considerations that Christians bring to the table that are not common ground with nonbelievers are going to have limited value in providing a basis for law.”

But you now seem to admit that religious considerations can have sufficient value in provided a basis for law in cases where religionists are in the majority.

ii) And why do you draw the line on religion? Are you comfortable with the idea that irreligious majorities should feel free to shove their irreligious believes down the throats of religious minorities?

If that idea makes you uncomfortable, why did you support Obama for Prez?

If you don’t think Christian values should inform public policy, then what are we left with? Peter Singer?

iii) Moreover, Christian-Americans are citizens, too. They can vote. They can run for public office. So why should they be expected to check their religious convictions at the door? I don’t see you disenfranchising the atheists.

“This reasoning could be extrapolated to not permitting, say, Calvinists to worship publicly.”

That’s why we have the First Amendment, Victor.

“I think respect for the rights of religious minorities is essential to democracy, which is one reason why I think the job of getting a democracy off the ground in any Islamic country is going to be extremely difficult.”

So if Muslim-Americans wish to wage jihad on their fellow Americans, or conduct honor-killings, or contract child-marriages, or perform genital mutilation on their daughters, it’s “essential” to our democracy that we respect their religious freedom of expression. Is that your position?

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