Science and moral decisions

There is a new morning after pill that prevents a fertilized embryo from attaching to the mother’s womb, an abortifacient that pro-deathers want made available over-the-counter.   What I’d like to concentrate on, though, is this reporter’s framing of the issue.  Consider especially this last sentence:

A French drug company is seeking to offer American women something their European counterparts already have: a pill that works long after “the morning after.”

The drug, dubbed ella, would be sold as a contraceptive — one that could prevent pregnancy for as many as five days after unprotected sex. But the new drug is a close chemical relative of the abortion pill RU-486, raising the possibility that it could also induce abortion by making the womb inhospitable for an embryo.

The controversy sparked by that ambiguity promises to overshadow the work of a federal panel that will convene next week to consider endorsing the drug. The last time the Food and Drug Administration vetted an emergency contraceptive — Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill — the decision was mired in debate over such fundamental questions as when life begins and the distinction between preventing and terminating a pregnancy. Ella is raising many of those same politically charged questions — but more sharply, testing the Obama administration’s pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions.

via New ‘morning-after’ pill, ella, raises debate over similarity to abortion drug.

That last sentence betrays staggering  ignorance about both science and morality.  Science can tell us how the chemical works.  But it can’t tell us whether or not to sell it over the counter.   With any drug it studies, the  FDA has to make a decision about whether it “should” be made available.  This is never just a scientific matter.  A drug might prove harmful or ineffective.  Therefore it “should” not be sold, on the moral principle that we should not harm or defraud other people.   Anytime we are in the realm of “should,” we are in the realm of ethics.  “Keeping ideology from influencing scientific decisions” is a dishonest formulation, not to mention in practice an exercise in imposing pro-death ideology in virtually every case.  A “decision” involves the will, and the will, of its very nature,  will tend to engage the moral realm.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Good point, Dr. Veith. The problem is that a lot of people still pursue the failed Enlightenment program of a finding a belief-neutral methodology for determining all truth. Worse yet, many simply assume that we’ve actually found one and that they have it. When it comes to morality, however, such neutrality is self-contradictory for human beings.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Good point, Dr. Veith. The problem is that a lot of people still pursue the failed Enlightenment program of a finding a belief-neutral methodology for determining all truth. Worse yet, many simply assume that we’ve actually found one and that they have it. When it comes to morality, however, such neutrality is self-contradictory for human beings.

  • Winston Smith

    You are correct, Dr. Veith. It is not a scientific decision but a policy determination. Science is only one element.

    Of course, ideology has never entered into the Obama administration’s decisions on, say, climate change.

  • Winston Smith

    You are correct, Dr. Veith. It is not a scientific decision but a policy determination. Science is only one element.

    Of course, ideology has never entered into the Obama administration’s decisions on, say, climate change.

  • Tom Hering

    The administration’s pledge is that they will not force scientists in government agencies to produce conclusions in line with the administration’s ideology.

  • Tom Hering

    The administration’s pledge is that they will not force scientists in government agencies to produce conclusions in line with the administration’s ideology.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Anytime we are in the realm of “should,” we are in the realm of ethics. “Keeping ideology from influencing scientific decisions” is a dishonest formulation . . .”

    While I agree with your analysis as a whole, (including the disturbing implications), I’m not sure I’d say it is a “dishonest” formulation. It is a perfectly frank and revealing formulation. The difference can be seen in this: You say, “ethics,” the reporter says, “ideology.”

  • Dan Kempin

    “Anytime we are in the realm of “should,” we are in the realm of ethics. “Keeping ideology from influencing scientific decisions” is a dishonest formulation . . .”

    While I agree with your analysis as a whole, (including the disturbing implications), I’m not sure I’d say it is a “dishonest” formulation. It is a perfectly frank and revealing formulation. The difference can be seen in this: You say, “ethics,” the reporter says, “ideology.”

  • bunnycatch3r

    @MATT C

    The problem is that a lot of people still pursue the failed Enlightenment program of a finding a belief-neutral methodology for determining all truth.

    As far as systems of morality go you really can’t find anything worse than what is in the Bible. It promotes slavery, genocide, pillaging (Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18,Deuteronomy 20:10-14).
    Oh, and consider the penalty for rape:
    ” If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.” The victim must marry her rapist!
    And this is the system of morality you would advance rather than one which is faith neutral?
    No Thanks!

  • bunnycatch3r

    @MATT C

    The problem is that a lot of people still pursue the failed Enlightenment program of a finding a belief-neutral methodology for determining all truth.

    As far as systems of morality go you really can’t find anything worse than what is in the Bible. It promotes slavery, genocide, pillaging (Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18,Deuteronomy 20:10-14).
    Oh, and consider the penalty for rape:
    ” If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.” The victim must marry her rapist!
    And this is the system of morality you would advance rather than one which is faith neutral?
    No Thanks!

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 does not say the woman who is raped must live with the man who rapes her. It only says the man who rapes her must support her as his wife for the rest of his life.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 does not say the woman who is raped must live with the man who rapes her. It only says the man who rapes her must support her as his wife for the rest of his life.

  • Joe

    bunnycatch3r – your citations are to the civil law (not the moral law) of the old testament. The old testament contains three distinct types of law: civil/political, moral and ceremonial. No Lutheran would advocate the reimplementation of the civil law and while we can learn some important things from the ceremonial law, we are not bound by it. The moral laws of the old testament remain unchanged.

    But even the citation about rape needs to be understood in the context of the old testament world. Marriage was the social safety net of that society. The violated women was never going to be married by anyone because of the cultural attitude toward marrying a non-virgin. Without a husband she would have starved or had to turn to prostitution or theft to stay alive. So yes marrying the rapist sounds completely disgusting to us, but it would literally save her life. But again, no one who actually understands the Bible is suggesting a return to the old testament civil law.

  • Joe

    bunnycatch3r – your citations are to the civil law (not the moral law) of the old testament. The old testament contains three distinct types of law: civil/political, moral and ceremonial. No Lutheran would advocate the reimplementation of the civil law and while we can learn some important things from the ceremonial law, we are not bound by it. The moral laws of the old testament remain unchanged.

    But even the citation about rape needs to be understood in the context of the old testament world. Marriage was the social safety net of that society. The violated women was never going to be married by anyone because of the cultural attitude toward marrying a non-virgin. Without a husband she would have starved or had to turn to prostitution or theft to stay alive. So yes marrying the rapist sounds completely disgusting to us, but it would literally save her life. But again, no one who actually understands the Bible is suggesting a return to the old testament civil law.

  • Orianna Laun

    Remember the old superhero cartoons of the late ’70s and early ’80s? There was always a push to get the technology secure before it fell “into the wrong hands.” Can and should be done are two varying ideologies.
    I have asked before, and will ask again, how can morality be faith neutral? It cannot. Period. There must be an underlying value system which determines morality. This is faith-based, otherwise morality will fluctuate based on the day, temperature, and mood.
    By the way, @5, your reading of old testament civil law misses Exodus 20: 14. “Do not commit adultery.” If a man does not rape a woman, he does not have to support her as a wife. If you don’t drive drunk, you won’t have to serve jail time for DWI.
    Scripture is not isolated snippets, but a contextual whole. Please keep it in context.

  • Orianna Laun

    Remember the old superhero cartoons of the late ’70s and early ’80s? There was always a push to get the technology secure before it fell “into the wrong hands.” Can and should be done are two varying ideologies.
    I have asked before, and will ask again, how can morality be faith neutral? It cannot. Period. There must be an underlying value system which determines morality. This is faith-based, otherwise morality will fluctuate based on the day, temperature, and mood.
    By the way, @5, your reading of old testament civil law misses Exodus 20: 14. “Do not commit adultery.” If a man does not rape a woman, he does not have to support her as a wife. If you don’t drive drunk, you won’t have to serve jail time for DWI.
    Scripture is not isolated snippets, but a contextual whole. Please keep it in context.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    @bunnycatch3r

    You asked “is this is the system of morality you would advance rather than one which is faith neutral?” I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my post. I didn’t advance a system morality at all; I merely noted that any such system cannot be belief neutral.

    Also, as a point of fact, none of the verses you mention set down a system of morality at all. The commands to conquer the promised land was just that–a command for the Israelites to conquer said territory. We can talk about how such a command can be issued by a good God if you want, but they are not part of a God-given moral system.

    Let’s look closest at the rape example, since you focused on that one. The law you mention (Deut. 22:2829) is part of a legal rather than a moral system. Legality and morality are related, but they are not identical. The latter is objective good and evil, the former is the subjective promotion of good and restraint of evil by a government in a given cultural setting. The pertinent difference here is that a government cannot always punish evil to its fullest extent. There are circumstances in which enforcement itself may promote greater evils than that which is restrained. For example, I think most of us would agree both that adultery is wrong and that having the government fully enforce that would be a bad idea.

    God provided a legal code which, in this specific circumstance, punished the rapist with a fine and obligated him to provide for his victim for the rest of her life–something more constructive than simply putting him to death (as the previous verses indicate for rapists in different circumstances). In the culture to which this code was given, marriage was the sole means of provision for women (right or wrong, that’s how it was) and the rape of a woman who is not betrothed typically rendered her unmarriable (right or wrong, that’s how it was). Also, like most middle-eastern cultures, it was honor-driven (whether right or wrong). Marrying the rapist restored the woman’s reputation. In our own culture, we see the wrong of rape primarily in terms of consent (whether right or wrong), but we shouldn’t assume every culture has always seen it the same way. Being raped was shaming (although God forbade punishing a woman for this shame, as still happens in middle-eastern cultures–Deut 22:26). Being married without your consent, on the other hand, was par for the course at the time. I’m not sure how many Gypsies or Hindus you know whose marriages were arranged, but none of the few I’ve known had any thought of considering it rape.

    This legal solution, while abhorrent in our own very different culture, solved the most pressing problems resulting from those specific circumstances of rape in that culture. Is it light on the delivery of punishment in favor of other goods? Perhaps. Is it a perfect solution? Certainly not, but perfection is an impossible burden to place on an earthly legal system (God may have provided laws, but they were to be carried out by sinful Israelites). However, don’t take it to mean that God doesn’t consider rape a significant evil. After all, His ultimate punishment for rape isn’t marriage and a fine, it’s eternity in hell–hardly lenient.

    Even if our own legal system is the best one ever, you couldn’t simply take our laws, dump them in the ancient Middle East and expect it to work out well. We obviously can’t even do that in the current Middle East. I don’t blame God for not engaging in such foolishness.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    @bunnycatch3r

    You asked “is this is the system of morality you would advance rather than one which is faith neutral?” I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my post. I didn’t advance a system morality at all; I merely noted that any such system cannot be belief neutral.

    Also, as a point of fact, none of the verses you mention set down a system of morality at all. The commands to conquer the promised land was just that–a command for the Israelites to conquer said territory. We can talk about how such a command can be issued by a good God if you want, but they are not part of a God-given moral system.

    Let’s look closest at the rape example, since you focused on that one. The law you mention (Deut. 22:2829) is part of a legal rather than a moral system. Legality and morality are related, but they are not identical. The latter is objective good and evil, the former is the subjective promotion of good and restraint of evil by a government in a given cultural setting. The pertinent difference here is that a government cannot always punish evil to its fullest extent. There are circumstances in which enforcement itself may promote greater evils than that which is restrained. For example, I think most of us would agree both that adultery is wrong and that having the government fully enforce that would be a bad idea.

    God provided a legal code which, in this specific circumstance, punished the rapist with a fine and obligated him to provide for his victim for the rest of her life–something more constructive than simply putting him to death (as the previous verses indicate for rapists in different circumstances). In the culture to which this code was given, marriage was the sole means of provision for women (right or wrong, that’s how it was) and the rape of a woman who is not betrothed typically rendered her unmarriable (right or wrong, that’s how it was). Also, like most middle-eastern cultures, it was honor-driven (whether right or wrong). Marrying the rapist restored the woman’s reputation. In our own culture, we see the wrong of rape primarily in terms of consent (whether right or wrong), but we shouldn’t assume every culture has always seen it the same way. Being raped was shaming (although God forbade punishing a woman for this shame, as still happens in middle-eastern cultures–Deut 22:26). Being married without your consent, on the other hand, was par for the course at the time. I’m not sure how many Gypsies or Hindus you know whose marriages were arranged, but none of the few I’ve known had any thought of considering it rape.

    This legal solution, while abhorrent in our own very different culture, solved the most pressing problems resulting from those specific circumstances of rape in that culture. Is it light on the delivery of punishment in favor of other goods? Perhaps. Is it a perfect solution? Certainly not, but perfection is an impossible burden to place on an earthly legal system (God may have provided laws, but they were to be carried out by sinful Israelites). However, don’t take it to mean that God doesn’t consider rape a significant evil. After all, His ultimate punishment for rape isn’t marriage and a fine, it’s eternity in hell–hardly lenient.

    Even if our own legal system is the best one ever, you couldn’t simply take our laws, dump them in the ancient Middle East and expect it to work out well. We obviously can’t even do that in the current Middle East. I don’t blame God for not engaging in such foolishness.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) says ” If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”
    Absolutely barbaric! Could you imagine a pastor using this verse to council a situation involving rape? No, neither can I.

    @Joe
    It really doesn’t matter what category of law those citations fall under. Slavery, genocide, kidnapping and rape are immoral. Any source advocating those crimes should not be looked on as a source for morality. It matters not that in our more enlightened estimation they have since been “repealed” ~ at one time the Bible compelled people to follow them.
    Let me ask you. If you were among the people of Isreal during the time of (Deuteronomy 3:1-7) would you have participated in the killing of children? No, I really didn’t think so. Neither would I.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) says ” If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”
    Absolutely barbaric! Could you imagine a pastor using this verse to council a situation involving rape? No, neither can I.

    @Joe
    It really doesn’t matter what category of law those citations fall under. Slavery, genocide, kidnapping and rape are immoral. Any source advocating those crimes should not be looked on as a source for morality. It matters not that in our more enlightened estimation they have since been “repealed” ~ at one time the Bible compelled people to follow them.
    Let me ask you. If you were among the people of Isreal during the time of (Deuteronomy 3:1-7) would you have participated in the killing of children? No, I really didn’t think so. Neither would I.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, who is saying a pastor should counsel a rape victim in light of OT civil law? Now you’re being completely ridiculous – and just refusing to give even a moment’s thought to the very good explanations you’ve been given.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, who is saying a pastor should counsel a rape victim in light of OT civil law? Now you’re being completely ridiculous – and just refusing to give even a moment’s thought to the very good explanations you’ve been given.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Matt C
    Thank you for explaining how some of the more barbaric passages of the bible are actually quite humane when viewed through the lens of cultural relativity. I wonder if you would extend that same privilege to verses prohibiting homosexuality?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Matt C
    Thank you for explaining how some of the more barbaric passages of the bible are actually quite humane when viewed through the lens of cultural relativity. I wonder if you would extend that same privilege to verses prohibiting homosexuality?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering
    I apologize if you feel that I’m not being fair. I assure you that I am trying to work through those responses. Perhaps I should quit posting on this subject until I’ve had more time.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering
    I apologize if you feel that I’m not being fair. I assure you that I am trying to work through those responses. Perhaps I should quit posting on this subject until I’ve had more time.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bunnycatch3r,
    You’re biggest problem is essentially you are arguing from a moral system produced by the Bible, against a legal system that the Bible at one time advocated.
    But being as slavery has been all but universally accepted as a moral institution the world round, before the rise of the Christian faith, you are in quite the minority. And should Christianity wane in the west, as it seems to be doing, I think it only a matter of time before the more harsh forms of slavery that legal system worked to curtail in an economy that all but demanded slavery, will find a resurgence.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bunnycatch3r,
    You’re biggest problem is essentially you are arguing from a moral system produced by the Bible, against a legal system that the Bible at one time advocated.
    But being as slavery has been all but universally accepted as a moral institution the world round, before the rise of the Christian faith, you are in quite the minority. And should Christianity wane in the west, as it seems to be doing, I think it only a matter of time before the more harsh forms of slavery that legal system worked to curtail in an economy that all but demanded slavery, will find a resurgence.

  • Cincinnatus

    bunnycatch3r: I must applaud you for your trollish ability to derail what otherwise could have been an interesting and relevant discussion. Denizens of Cranach, please remove the hooks from your mouths!

    I’ll be very clear about this: I’m not worried about being “charitable” and “winsome” to you, as, based on previous experience, I know your aim is merely to be provocative and annoying. I also won’t tell you that it is patently absurd to claim that the Bible “compels” people to commit genocide; not even the most secular of historical critics would agree with such an interpretation of any portion of scripture. So please take your selective, unscholarly, ungenerous interpretations of the Old Testament elsewhere and speak to something relevant. If you were willing to engage in thoughtful commentary and criticism of the Old Testament, fine, but it is clear that you are not. So let’s move on.

    We can begin here: Science claims–falsely, of course–to be ethnically neutral. You, meanwhile, disparage any “source” for morality advocating what you insist to be the immoral crimes of slavery, genocide, kidnapping, and rape, etc. Laying aside the argument over whether the Bible “advocates” and “compels” rape, genocide, etc. (and I would be aligning myself with the vast majority of the scholarly community both secular and sacred in claiming that it does not, so to me it is a moot point), a very personal question, and one that is actually very pertinent to our culture and to the issue at hand, is what the proper “source” of morality is. You apparently have one, as it provides the material for you to deconstruct, albeit fallaciously, the Jewish source of morality with a stunning level of moral superiority. What, then, is your source? What should ours be? What should the Christian’s be?

  • Cincinnatus

    bunnycatch3r: I must applaud you for your trollish ability to derail what otherwise could have been an interesting and relevant discussion. Denizens of Cranach, please remove the hooks from your mouths!

    I’ll be very clear about this: I’m not worried about being “charitable” and “winsome” to you, as, based on previous experience, I know your aim is merely to be provocative and annoying. I also won’t tell you that it is patently absurd to claim that the Bible “compels” people to commit genocide; not even the most secular of historical critics would agree with such an interpretation of any portion of scripture. So please take your selective, unscholarly, ungenerous interpretations of the Old Testament elsewhere and speak to something relevant. If you were willing to engage in thoughtful commentary and criticism of the Old Testament, fine, but it is clear that you are not. So let’s move on.

    We can begin here: Science claims–falsely, of course–to be ethnically neutral. You, meanwhile, disparage any “source” for morality advocating what you insist to be the immoral crimes of slavery, genocide, kidnapping, and rape, etc. Laying aside the argument over whether the Bible “advocates” and “compels” rape, genocide, etc. (and I would be aligning myself with the vast majority of the scholarly community both secular and sacred in claiming that it does not, so to me it is a moot point), a very personal question, and one that is actually very pertinent to our culture and to the issue at hand, is what the proper “source” of morality is. You apparently have one, as it provides the material for you to deconstruct, albeit fallaciously, the Jewish source of morality with a stunning level of moral superiority. What, then, is your source? What should ours be? What should the Christian’s be?

  • Cincinnatus

    “ethically”, not ahem “ethnically”

  • Cincinnatus

    “ethically”, not ahem “ethnically”

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, rape is evil. If God didn’t see it as evil, why would He give men laws to restrain it – the best laws possible in the context of that time and place?

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, rape is evil. If God didn’t see it as evil, why would He give men laws to restrain it – the best laws possible in the context of that time and place?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    bunnycatch3r,
    “I apologize if you feel that I’m not being fair. I assure you that I am trying to work through those responses. Perhaps I should quit posting on this subject until I’ve had more time.”
    Perhaps you should. Perhaps also you should spend sometime trying to understand the nature of Biblical Hermeneutics, take some time studying the Bible and what it says, giving it the benefit of the doubt since it is responsible for the morality you are suggesting, and asking questions of it while actually wanting an answer, rather than accusing it from what you deem to be the moral high ground, while blindly ignoring the consequences of the western position, which may actually end up causing the exploitation of people in a worse manner than the slavery of the O.T.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    bunnycatch3r,
    “I apologize if you feel that I’m not being fair. I assure you that I am trying to work through those responses. Perhaps I should quit posting on this subject until I’ve had more time.”
    Perhaps you should. Perhaps also you should spend sometime trying to understand the nature of Biblical Hermeneutics, take some time studying the Bible and what it says, giving it the benefit of the doubt since it is responsible for the morality you are suggesting, and asking questions of it while actually wanting an answer, rather than accusing it from what you deem to be the moral high ground, while blindly ignoring the consequences of the western position, which may actually end up causing the exploitation of people in a worse manner than the slavery of the O.T.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus @15,
    Right on.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus @15,
    Right on.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The key point, is that people are not improperly mixing ideology with science or getting “mired in debate” when questioning the morality of the use of pharmaceutical abortifacients. The writer of the article, Rob Stein, and Obama are mistaken on this issue.

    Scientists who questioned the use of atomic weapons understood the necessity of examining the real moral and ethical issues involved.

    Stein and Obama are actually arguing from the naturalistic position that denies any sort of truth beyond that of the empirical and theoretical study of nature. This is the naturalistic position that at present occupies the cultural heights of the media, academia, and Hollywood.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The key point, is that people are not improperly mixing ideology with science or getting “mired in debate” when questioning the morality of the use of pharmaceutical abortifacients. The writer of the article, Rob Stein, and Obama are mistaken on this issue.

    Scientists who questioned the use of atomic weapons understood the necessity of examining the real moral and ethical issues involved.

    Stein and Obama are actually arguing from the naturalistic position that denies any sort of truth beyond that of the empirical and theoretical study of nature. This is the naturalistic position that at present occupies the cultural heights of the media, academia, and Hollywood.

  • sg

    RU 486 was approved over the objections of FDA officials. A congressional committee issued a report entitled,
    “THE FDA AND RU-486: LOWERING THE STANDARD FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH”

    http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/ru486/SouderStaffReportonRU-486.pdf

  • sg

    RU 486 was approved over the objections of FDA officials. A congressional committee issued a report entitled,
    “THE FDA AND RU-486: LOWERING THE STANDARD FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH”

    http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/ru486/SouderStaffReportonRU-486.pdf

  • sg

    You gotta love bunny catcher’s moral preening about the immoral out-of-context examples. We sit here in a civilized state because so many dedicated Christians sacrificed to give the next generation a more fair and decent society. The Bible gives a window of moral progress through the ages and bunny comes here to tell us that since the ancient’s weren’t perfect we should discard the foundation from which her socially inferred objections to slavery, rape etc. are derived.

    If she weren’t living in a Christian nation she would not even know those things are wrong.

  • sg

    You gotta love bunny catcher’s moral preening about the immoral out-of-context examples. We sit here in a civilized state because so many dedicated Christians sacrificed to give the next generation a more fair and decent society. The Bible gives a window of moral progress through the ages and bunny comes here to tell us that since the ancient’s weren’t perfect we should discard the foundation from which her socially inferred objections to slavery, rape etc. are derived.

    If she weren’t living in a Christian nation she would not even know those things are wrong.

  • J

    bunnycatch3r, rule of thumb -
    Anything in the Mosaic laws that the relgious right does not want to apply to themselves falls under the civil law. But anything that the right wants to apply to others falls under the moral law.

  • J

    bunnycatch3r, rule of thumb -
    Anything in the Mosaic laws that the relgious right does not want to apply to themselves falls under the civil law. But anything that the right wants to apply to others falls under the moral law.

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, Bunny. You seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest. If I didn’t have more restraint, I’d try to work in some joke about “rabbit season.”

    Still, your argument (@10) doesn’t quite hold up. Or perhaps I should just say that it doesn’t persuade.

    You accuse God of being barbaric–criminal, in fact. (And you correctly chide Matt C for trying to “justify” the law with cultural context. To do so overthrows his whole position.) I certainly concede that the Law of God harsh in the extreme. Yet harsh and unjust are not the same thing. The Law of God is fair and good.

    The civil and ceremonial Law, for that matter, was not “repealed,” and if it is no longer binding, it must still be considered holy and just. The command that God gave to Adam about the fruit of the tree is no longer binding. (Shall we have fun and say that was a different cultural context?) It was still a good and fair and wise command.

    So then, you argue, can I explain the law on rape or the command to utterly destroy the people of Canaan?

    I cannot. I cannot explain it away or justify it, nor do I feel compelled to do so. It is God’s Word, not mine. And if it is beyond me, then I will keep silent, lest I make myself the judge of God rather than the other way around.

    btw, may I ask if there is any particular meaning to your “name?” What is the significance of the number 3?

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, Bunny. You seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest. If I didn’t have more restraint, I’d try to work in some joke about “rabbit season.”

    Still, your argument (@10) doesn’t quite hold up. Or perhaps I should just say that it doesn’t persuade.

    You accuse God of being barbaric–criminal, in fact. (And you correctly chide Matt C for trying to “justify” the law with cultural context. To do so overthrows his whole position.) I certainly concede that the Law of God harsh in the extreme. Yet harsh and unjust are not the same thing. The Law of God is fair and good.

    The civil and ceremonial Law, for that matter, was not “repealed,” and if it is no longer binding, it must still be considered holy and just. The command that God gave to Adam about the fruit of the tree is no longer binding. (Shall we have fun and say that was a different cultural context?) It was still a good and fair and wise command.

    So then, you argue, can I explain the law on rape or the command to utterly destroy the people of Canaan?

    I cannot. I cannot explain it away or justify it, nor do I feel compelled to do so. It is God’s Word, not mine. And if it is beyond me, then I will keep silent, lest I make myself the judge of God rather than the other way around.

    btw, may I ask if there is any particular meaning to your “name?” What is the significance of the number 3?

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #21,

    “The Bible gives a window of moral progress through the ages . . .”

    “Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.”
    -Arnold J. Rimmer

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #21,

    “The Bible gives a window of moral progress through the ages . . .”

    “Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.”
    -Arnold J. Rimmer

  • sg

    “Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.”

    Hilarious.

    The “I think, therefore it is true” refutation.

    Who can argue with “nuh, uh” except to say, ” ya, huh”?

    Nein! Doch! Nein! Doch! usw.

  • sg

    “Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.”

    Hilarious.

    The “I think, therefore it is true” refutation.

    Who can argue with “nuh, uh” except to say, ” ya, huh”?

    Nein! Doch! Nein! Doch! usw.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Rob Klein and Obama’s view that moral or ethical issues ought not to “mire” discussion of scientific views is itself an “ought” or ethical statement. Liberals, when it comes to damning conservatives, use rather flagrant ethical or “ought” language, though woe betide mayhap the conservative who argues abortifacients slaughter pre-natal human beings.

    These people are merely smoking their secular dope, however much this merely favors the secular bias of our present society. J for example gets off pandering to the secular chorus.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Rob Klein and Obama’s view that moral or ethical issues ought not to “mire” discussion of scientific views is itself an “ought” or ethical statement. Liberals, when it comes to damning conservatives, use rather flagrant ethical or “ought” language, though woe betide mayhap the conservative who argues abortifacients slaughter pre-natal human beings.

    These people are merely smoking their secular dope, however much this merely favors the secular bias of our present society. J for example gets off pandering to the secular chorus.

  • http://www.scribe-nootherfoundation.blogspot.com Scribe

    “A “decision” involves the will, and the will, of its very nature, will tend to engage the moral realm.”

    Right on, Dr. Veith. It’s amazing how many people these days refuse to acknowledge that. Thanks!

  • http://www.scribe-nootherfoundation.blogspot.com Scribe

    “A “decision” involves the will, and the will, of its very nature, will tend to engage the moral realm.”

    Right on, Dr. Veith. It’s amazing how many people these days refuse to acknowledge that. Thanks!

  • J

    Leavitt, I find your posts largely incoherent, but I do want to answer the dig that I’m pandering to a secular chorus, whatever that may mean. I’m pandering to many posters here, most of whom seem to find the Mosaic code useful only to bash homosexuals and women.
    When they’re reminded that the code also says things like, say, treat the ‘alien in the land’ with respect and dignity, these folks’ll tell you that’s just irrelevent civil code, not applicable today, you see, because we live under the New Covenent, and it allows us to racially profile and separate parents from their children for deportation.
    So I was just mocking what I think is a foolish hermeneutic. And it wasn’t for the sake of the “secular chorus,” my man.

  • J

    Leavitt, I find your posts largely incoherent, but I do want to answer the dig that I’m pandering to a secular chorus, whatever that may mean. I’m pandering to many posters here, most of whom seem to find the Mosaic code useful only to bash homosexuals and women.
    When they’re reminded that the code also says things like, say, treat the ‘alien in the land’ with respect and dignity, these folks’ll tell you that’s just irrelevent civil code, not applicable today, you see, because we live under the New Covenent, and it allows us to racially profile and separate parents from their children for deportation.
    So I was just mocking what I think is a foolish hermeneutic. And it wasn’t for the sake of the “secular chorus,” my man.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@29: Ah, “pandering” always a useful and charitable debating tactic, no? Almost as helpful as, *ahem*, sarcasm.

    One fallacy I see in your argument is that it is completely and totally irrelevant, not to mention highly uncharitable: not a single person in this thread has attacked homosexuality upon moral grounds, much less upon moral grounds derived from the Old Testament. In fact, your partner in shoddy hermeneutics bunnycath3r, is the one who broached the topic of the Old Testament.

    And what does illegal immigration have to do with anything we’ve said so far? And who here said that the New Covenant allows us to “racially profile”? Of all the random partisan issues…

    Are you sure you’re not posting in the wrong thread?

    p.s. The “civil” and “moral” code distinction, along with other similar divisions of the Old Testament (ceremonial/moral, etc.), isn’t an invention of the political right but is rather a time-tested, and generally agreed-upon, method of interpreting the Old Testament for Christians. If you’re going to discard such distinctions (as a Christian), then how, exactly, do you deal with the Old Testament? There are, of course, other hermeneutical methodologies, but I suspect that your position isn’t an authentic derivation from a legitimate alternative but is rather yet another tired attempt to “pander” to…well, someone. I’m actually not certain who you’re pandering to at the moment, given the “non-sequiturian” nature of your ravings.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@29: Ah, “pandering” always a useful and charitable debating tactic, no? Almost as helpful as, *ahem*, sarcasm.

    One fallacy I see in your argument is that it is completely and totally irrelevant, not to mention highly uncharitable: not a single person in this thread has attacked homosexuality upon moral grounds, much less upon moral grounds derived from the Old Testament. In fact, your partner in shoddy hermeneutics bunnycath3r, is the one who broached the topic of the Old Testament.

    And what does illegal immigration have to do with anything we’ve said so far? And who here said that the New Covenant allows us to “racially profile”? Of all the random partisan issues…

    Are you sure you’re not posting in the wrong thread?

    p.s. The “civil” and “moral” code distinction, along with other similar divisions of the Old Testament (ceremonial/moral, etc.), isn’t an invention of the political right but is rather a time-tested, and generally agreed-upon, method of interpreting the Old Testament for Christians. If you’re going to discard such distinctions (as a Christian), then how, exactly, do you deal with the Old Testament? There are, of course, other hermeneutical methodologies, but I suspect that your position isn’t an authentic derivation from a legitimate alternative but is rather yet another tired attempt to “pander” to…well, someone. I’m actually not certain who you’re pandering to at the moment, given the “non-sequiturian” nature of your ravings.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    @bunnycatch3r (12)

    I would extend the same privilege to homosexuality, although I’m not sure whether it’s quite what you have in mind. Just like rape is morally wrong regardless of culture, but the legal response of each culture to that wrong may be legitimately conditioned by circumstances, same-sex liaisons are morally wrong regardless of culture, but the legal response of each culture to that wrong may be legitimately conditioned by circumstances.

    @ J (23)

    Is that how it works? Because I thought the inclusion of a legal penalty within the verse in question was kind of a dead give away that it was about civil law.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    @bunnycatch3r (12)

    I would extend the same privilege to homosexuality, although I’m not sure whether it’s quite what you have in mind. Just like rape is morally wrong regardless of culture, but the legal response of each culture to that wrong may be legitimately conditioned by circumstances, same-sex liaisons are morally wrong regardless of culture, but the legal response of each culture to that wrong may be legitimately conditioned by circumstances.

    @ J (23)

    Is that how it works? Because I thought the inclusion of a legal penalty within the verse in question was kind of a dead give away that it was about civil law.

  • Joe

    Actually, to be more precises that fact that rape compels a civil penalty shows that the act violates the moral law. The specific penalty is the civil law – thus the verse speaks both to the immorality of rape and proscribes a civil remedy for when it occurs.

  • Joe

    Actually, to be more precises that fact that rape compels a civil penalty shows that the act violates the moral law. The specific penalty is the civil law – thus the verse speaks both to the immorality of rape and proscribes a civil remedy for when it occurs.

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #26,

    I hope you know that my response was 98% the opportunity to use that quote. (Anyone who knows Arnold Rimmer will understand.)

    The 2% consists in this: There is no such thing as “moral progress through the ages.” (Re: #22)

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #26,

    I hope you know that my response was 98% the opportunity to use that quote. (Anyone who knows Arnold Rimmer will understand.)

    The 2% consists in this: There is no such thing as “moral progress through the ages.” (Re: #22)

  • sg

    “The 2% consists in this: There is no such thing as “moral progress through the ages.” (Re: #22)”

    Evidence?

    I would cite the development and enforcement of contract law as moral progress.

  • sg

    “The 2% consists in this: There is no such thing as “moral progress through the ages.” (Re: #22)”

    Evidence?

    I would cite the development and enforcement of contract law as moral progress.

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #34,

    “every inclination of [man's] heart was only evil all the time” Gen. 6:5

    “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold to sin . . . for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:14, 18

    “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands. They did not stop worshipping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze and wood . . . not did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20-21

    That’s the “window of moral progress” as I see it in the scripture–a timeline of absolutely no change. Morality is an absolute, not a continuum. There is no “progress” of morality–there is either righteousness or sin. Since there is no righteousness among men, there is therefore only grace.

  • Dan Kempin

    sg, #34,

    “every inclination of [man's] heart was only evil all the time” Gen. 6:5

    “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold to sin . . . for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:14, 18

    “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands. They did not stop worshipping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze and wood . . . not did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20-21

    That’s the “window of moral progress” as I see it in the scripture–a timeline of absolutely no change. Morality is an absolute, not a continuum. There is no “progress” of morality–there is either righteousness or sin. Since there is no righteousness among men, there is therefore only grace.

  • sg

    Dan, it is the people who make the progress. Obviously God doesn’t change. Consider Europe before and after Christianity. It looks to me like the people in Europe made moral progress over time due to the influence of Christianity. The history recorded in the Bible also records changes in the behavior of the people.

  • sg

    Dan, it is the people who make the progress. Obviously God doesn’t change. Consider Europe before and after Christianity. It looks to me like the people in Europe made moral progress over time due to the influence of Christianity. The history recorded in the Bible also records changes in the behavior of the people.

  • Dan Kempin

    sg,

    I think I may have oversold my objection, and if my “clever” statement about “wrongability” seemed harsh, I apologize. I meant it to be funny.

    I don’t disagree with the point you wish to make, but I caught you using a poor phrase to do so. You said, “The Bible gives us a window of moral progress through the ages.” If you had said something like, “history teaches us that Christian influence leads to social moral progress,” I would have no objection. The Bible, though, teaches nothing of moral progress.

  • Dan Kempin

    sg,

    I think I may have oversold my objection, and if my “clever” statement about “wrongability” seemed harsh, I apologize. I meant it to be funny.

    I don’t disagree with the point you wish to make, but I caught you using a poor phrase to do so. You said, “The Bible gives us a window of moral progress through the ages.” If you had said something like, “history teaches us that Christian influence leads to social moral progress,” I would have no objection. The Bible, though, teaches nothing of moral progress.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@36), “Consider Europe before and after Christianity.” Um, which of the many, many wars waged by “Christendom” would you like me to consider — perhaps a Crusade or two? The Thirty-Years War? Maybe a World War or two? Or did you have in mind instead things like the Jewish pogroms and the Inquisition? Ah, the morality! The progress!

    Seriously, do you understand what Christianity is about? Do you think it’s about morality? You allude to “the history recorded in the Bible”, but you don’t show any actual familiarity with it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@36), “Consider Europe before and after Christianity.” Um, which of the many, many wars waged by “Christendom” would you like me to consider — perhaps a Crusade or two? The Thirty-Years War? Maybe a World War or two? Or did you have in mind instead things like the Jewish pogroms and the Inquisition? Ah, the morality! The progress!

    Seriously, do you understand what Christianity is about? Do you think it’s about morality? You allude to “the history recorded in the Bible”, but you don’t show any actual familiarity with it.


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