The Religious Excuse

Does it matter if an opinion is religious? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last night on Bill O’Reilly, Greg Gutfeld filled in for O’Reilly and had as his last guest a lawyer from the ACLU. They were discussing abortion and in the midst of it John Flannery, the lawyer, says “You see by inches how people have made the religious notion that conception is the beginning of personhood as the standard which challenges both contraception and a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion.”

Did you notice it? Let’s take a look at it, except this time I’m going to take out one word. Try not to look back and see if you notice the difference.

“You see by inches how people have made the notion that conception is the beginning of personhood as the standard which challenges both contraception and a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion.”

What’s the difference?

The difference is that in the second one, I left out the word religious. Go back and look if you have to. How does that change it?

In the second one, you see a notion has been made and this is believed then to be a notion that can be challenged by the evidence. If you don’t know the source, you will study the claim or you will give arguments against the claim if you already believe that the claim is false. You will point to scientific arguments if you have them or philosophical and metaphysical arguments. This is a point that can be debated.

What happens when it’s made a religious notion?

Because of this, we have something called poisoning the well taking place. At this point, one does not need to challenge the claim then. One needs to just point out that the source is supposedly biased and therefore cannot be trusted. A huge number of people that oppose abortion in this country are religious. Of course, there are people who oppose abortion who are not. I do know of atheists who oppose abortion and I thank God for them. Still, even they I’m sure would agree most of the opposition comes from people of faith.

What do you do then? Simply. You just disregard them all at once.

The religious people don’t have any real reasons after all for thinking abortion is wrong other than that their holy book says so. Since we no longer take that as an authority in the public square today, then we can dismiss with that. Now if they don’t want to follow just what the Bible says, well that is their choice, but the problem is that a large number of people who are religious do not use just the Bible. We also have scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical arguments for why we believe what we believe about what is in the womb.

How do you know if the argument is religious or not? It’s simple. You just ask if you can take it out of the mouth of the religious person and put it in the mouth of an atheist and see if it is the exact same argument. Suppose I give scientific data for why I believe life begins at conception. Could an atheist not give the exact same data? If so, then the argument is not religious. It is scientific.

Of course, someone could reply that the reason someone wants to ban abortion is because of a religious reason. Certainly that could be the case, but that is also irrelevant to the argument. Let us suppose that someone committed a crime against some that I love, such as my wife. I give a testimony at a trial on why this person should be locked up and have the key thrown away. Will it damage the data I present to just say “Well of course you want that. It was your wife that was victimized?” No. The data stands or falls on its own. If you think i have bias that is causing me to misread the data, you must show that by looking at the data itself. If there is a misreading taking place, it can be demonstrated.

This is taking place in many of our debates today including the debate on redefining marriage. It is just assumed that the data that is presented cannot be correct. Why? Because it is being made by people of religion and we all know that because they are biased, they are to be discounted.

This allows the person who holds the position opposed to the person of faith to ignore the only question that matters. That question is “Is the position true?” There is no mention of the reason behind it any more. There is no mention of the data. There is no talk about having an argument. All that needs to be said is that the person who holds to the position is religious and automatically, it is assumed to be fallacious. (Do note this all fellow people who hold to a religion. This is also an insult as it implies the only reason you believe X is because your holy book says so and if it said otherwise, you would say otherwise.)

When a person brings up religion then, tell them to get on the subject. When you argue against abortion or against redefining marriage, you are not arguing to convert someone to your worldview concerning religion. You are arguing for an ethical position. Of course, those of us who are Christians will have no objections to someone becoming a Christian, but let’s be clear each time on what battle it is that we are fighting.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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One Response to “The Religious Excuse”

  1. Rev. Edward B. Connolly Says:

    Well said, Mr. Peters!
    Thank you!
    Faith supplements and reinforces Reason.
    Faith never annihilates Reason.

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