Part 1: Empiricism

Let’s start like responsible philosophers with clear definitions…

Empiricism is the theory that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. It emphasizes the role of experience and evidence in the formation of ideas, and argues that the only knowledge humans can have is “a posteriori” (Latin for “from what comes after”)

Thi is opposed to Rationalism which is…

Rationalism is a method of inquiry that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge and, in contrast to empiricism, tends to not approve of  sensory experience. A priori (Latin for “from what was before”)

A priori (prior to experience) knowledge is what we know using our minds and not our senses. We live in a world of Empiricism right now. Science gives us empirical evidence and we are told we need this to believe anything. We are a culture of extreme skepticism in everything, except of science and empirical evidence.

This is a problem for two reasons. 

  1. Not everything is subject to the scientific method. God, ghosts, anything spiritual. Even psychology, we can do experiments and test but we can’t be as certain in psychology as we can be of something like gravity.
  2. The other problem is that we don’t know how much we can trust our senses. This is what I want to spend some time on.

You’ve probably seen the movie The Matrix which leaves us with the question, how do I know that everything I’m experiencing (Empirical data) isn’t just a dream or a computer program? Now, no one believes this is real, but we can’t know for sure! Descartes took this to the extreme and decided the only thing he can know is that he is a thinking thing. There is something (his soul? his mind?) that definitely exists because he knows that he is thinking about these things. From there I think we can build a few basic truths and know them for sure (as Descartes tried to do).

One truth we can never know for sure is Empiricism. I’m not saying I believe we are in Inception or something, however science itself helps to prove how unreliable science actually is. Einstein came up with his theories of relativity in the early 1900s which basically say that time is different depending on your perspective. Not that it is perceived differently, but time is actually different.

“Scientists have tested this theory through experimentation – proving, for example, that an atomic clock ticks more slowly when traveling at a high speed than it does when it is not moving. The essence of Einstein’s paper was that both space and time are relative (rather than absolute)…”

So depending on your speed time literally moves slower or faster (you don’t perceive it slower or faster, it actually slows down or speeds up!!). I know it sounds insane, but that is because we place so much importance on experience. This was confirmed conclusively just recently because not only is time relative, but also physical matter itself is relative. Gravitational waves from a supernova came through and scientists detected that it stretched all physical matter on earth (including the earth itself) by a microscopic amount. We didn’t notice a thing though.

My concern is that if something as basic as time and my height can be completely subjective, then how can I trust anything I see or hear or smell or taste or feel? Logic is something I can trust much more. The law of non-contradiction is more concrete than Newtons laws. Furthermore if we can throw out so much of what we knew about physics so quickly, maybe we will be throwing out Einsteins theories sooner than we think? 

My point is just that we cannot choose to trust only Empiricism, as we have. I would argue that Rationalism is more trustworthy than Empiricism. You may not believe that, but either way, we all have to wrestle with the fact (and it is a fact) that we cannot be as certain about anything as we thought we could. We know staggeringly little about the world we perceive. We should be more open to uncertainty and not act so sure of so much.


This clip from Last Week Tonight expands on the science problem. There is a quote in this piece (below), “I think the way to live your life is you find the study that sounds best to you” where Jon Oliver makes the joke that choosing only what you want to believe, “is religion, that’s religion you’re thinking of.” That’s Exactly the problem, our society doesn’t understand what science does or what philosophy/religion is. 

Jon Oliver – Science Studies


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Who Goes to Heaven?

           I read a book about 5 years ago by Rob Bell called “Love Wins”.  I had a lot of questions about my baptist faith and if I would have heard of Rob Bell I would have had a lot of answers I was looking for at the time. I eventually would have came to the Catholic Church because Rob Bell only scratches the surface of these questions. If you want a simple read about why “God always gets what He wants, and what God wants is everyone in Heaven with Him.” (My synopsis of Love Wins) then read Rob Bells book. If you are an intellectual that wants to deepen your knowledge of the theology of our time, read Love Alone is Credible by Hans Urs Von Balthasar. 

          After reading both these books I have become a believer in what we call “Universal Salvation”. This is the belief that in the end every human being will be saved and go to Heaven. The idea is that Hell exists (because Jesus said it does) but no one is actually in Hell. Rob Bell argues that God is the ultimate being (all powerful, all knowing and all good) and if He wants something, there is nothing that He cannot have. We know that our God desires every person to be in Heaven with Him, yes even Hitler! If we do not believe this then we do not understand anything about Christianity or God. However, Rob Bell fails to address the true gravity of the problem of free will. If we have free will then we can choose to reject God completely. Hell is then simply the loneliness of not being with God. Hell is not a place God casts us when we are bad, we put ourselves there by alienating ourselves from a God who desires more than anything to be with us.  

           My personal belief is that Rob Bell is correct. As for the free will problem, I can’t understand how anyone would willingly choose against God. I see it in finite things, in my own sin I choose against God, but even in sinful pleasure you can look back and say “is this really all there is?” The pleasure that we feel from our sin derives from a distortion of the pleasure of God’s goodness. Food is good and pleasurable until we pervert it by becoming gluttons. The only sin that is not like this is Envy which gives us no pleasure. I would speculate all sin in Hell is Envy and Pride. There can be no good in Hell, therefore Hell is a combination of Envy and Pride since these are the only two sins that contain no goodness. We are envious of God and everyone in Heaven, while at the same time being too prideful to want to abandon ourselves to God. (Dante may refer to this in the Inferno). The reason I believe the argument holds has more to do with human psychology than anything else. How could someone be that prideful? Is it even possible? I don’t believe someone will ever  reject all goodness and all love, however I do believe it is possible while Rob Bell does not.

            Hans Urs Von Balthasar comes at this problem differently, from God’s perspective. God poured himself out as far as He possibly could in the most extreme and outrageous way possible; in Jesus. Jesus literally went into the depths of Hell to pull us out of our misery. There is a movie with Robin Williams called “What Dreams May Come” where he dies and his grief stricken wife kills herself. He goes to heaven and she goes to Hell. He cannot be happy in Heaven without his wife so he travels to Hell to bring her out. He realizes he can’t because she’s lost her mind so he makes the ultimate sacrifice, to stay with her in Hell and lose his mind too. This ultimate act of self giving is what saves her. This is what God does for us in Jesus. This act is an extreme effort to save all people. Jesus is the expression of God’s love for humanity and shows that God will go into the depths of Hell to bring us out. The idea is that God would go to any lengths possible to save us (and He has) and because of that He has given us every opportunity to enter Heaven. God has gone as far as possible to bring us into Heaven, all we have to do is accept, what else could guarantee as many people in Heaven as possible?

The Red Sea and Me

For my class I had to write a Homily, so I decided to write one on the Red Sea and so here is my Homily on the Red Sea.

 

I was Baptized when I was 18, kind of strange for a Catholic but I was not a Catholic. I was raised in a Baptist church. In the Baptist church you have to choose at some point in your life when you would like to be Baptized. My Mom had just died of cancer and I realized there was nothing that could ever happen that could break my relationship with God, so I decided to devote the rest of my life to him. Now as seriously as I took my Baptism and as much as it meant to me, it didn’t exactly go according to plan. Dan McCarthy was the fill in Pastor, because our church was in the midsts of a search for a Pastor. Now I grew up in a small town named Essex and as expected in a small town, the fill-in pastor was also a farmer, but he was a gifted preacher. Although you’d expect a farmer to not be dressed that well, Dan was always dressed to the nines for church on Sunday, especially when he was preaching and even more so when there was a Baptism.

 

Two important things to remember about Baptism in the Baptist church is that we do full immersion, meaning you and the pastor get into a large bathtub and your whole body gets dunked under water. The second thing you need to remember is that for some odd reason we do the Baptism first, which means the Pastor has to Baptize you and then get out, go change and come out and preach for 30 more minutes. Well Dan was a farmer so he was very resourceful. Dan was also the type to be “all in”, he was not one to hold back. Dan decided to Baptize me while wearing a pair of waders. Now for the non-farmers out there these are rubber overalls that are all one piece so that water can’t get in anywhere, all the way up past your waist, almost to your chest. Pretty ingenious right? Well, beside the fact that it was odd having one of the most important, meaningful, sacred and special moments of my life marked by a man wearing this ridiculous outfit with a suit underneath, it didn’t go at all as planned. As Dan grabbed me and thrust me in and out of the water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his chest went below the water and his rubber waders filled with water. His plan had backfired since now his waders were filled with water up to his knees and there was no where for the water to go.

 
But what I always admired about Dan, as I said before, he is “all in”. He wasn’t going to let a little water get in the way of his duty as a preacher! So he went to the back and dried his dress pants out under the bathroom blow dryer. Dan didn’t care if he got a little wet and he wasn’t going to look back! He got right in that water with me and even when things didn’t go as he thought they would, after he got soaked, he never let it hold him back. He went up to preach and he came out in front of the crowd no worse for wear…. although maybe still a little damp.

 
When we hear about Moses and the Exodus out of Egypt in the readings we see another man who never looked back. Moses was an unlikely leader, some scholars even say he may have had some sort of speech impediment. However, with the power of God behind him, he freed the Jews from slavery. The Israelite people were happy to have God’s representative, Moses, come and lead them out of Egypt away from that slavery. Just as God has sent the Church to be His representative to lead us away from sin.

 
The Israeli people ran from their slave owners as the Egyptian people chased them down, but in order to truly be free they needed a major intervention from God. As they reached the Red Sea I’m sure panic set in as they felt hopelessly defenseless. There was nothing more that was humanly possible for them to do and it looked as though they were doomed to a life of slavery to the Egyptians or worse yet, (or maybe better yet) they were doomed to death. Then God acts. In one of the most dramatic displays of God’s power and one of the most notable stories in human history. He commands Moses to raise his arm and part the Red Sea, saving the Jewish people, who were on the brink of death, through the water. Not only are they saved from the immediate threat, but God destroys the army of death so that the Israeli people no longer have to be afraid, because death itself has been defeated.

 
We too can run from our own slavery of sin all we want but what we really need in order to live in peace is a major intervention from God. When I was dunked into the water at my Baptist church God did for me exactly what he did for the Israeli people. God literally saved me from death while I was on the brink of death and destroyed my slavery to sin so that I no longer had to ever fear that slavery again. Even though you probably don’t remember your Baptism, God did the same for you. God destroyed the threat of sin at your Baptism. God gave you the strength in your Baptism to walk away from that slavery of sin in peace and in freedom. Never underestimate the power of that moment. Just as the Red Sea is one of the most important events in human history, your Baptism is one of the most profound events you will ever experience in your life.

 

 

For the Israelites this miracle came with the prophecy of the Promised Land. It was the beginning of a journey towards the land “flowing with milk and honey” which was something they had been anticipating for a long long time. However before they would reach the promised land, they would have to go on a very long journey that would would test their faith and at times they would want to turn back. They would get caught up in worshiping things that were not God and even say “things were better when we were slaves in Egypt”! Really?!?!? But of course God provides for them by sending them bread from Heaven, which they of course take for granted and throughout the whole journey continue to disobey God.

 
We are on this journey, constantly getting tired, complaining, losing our faith and even saying, “things were better when I could do whatever I want and didn’t care about these Catholic rules.” How easily we forget that we were slaves! How often we get caught up in worshipping things that are not God! I have no trouble remembering the details of whatever show I watched on Netflix but how often I forget what God did for me in my Baptism. Sometimes I even think, what would it be like if I did whatever I wanted and paid no attention to what God wants me to do. But I know that it is a slavery to sin and I know I have the bread from Heaven, the Eucharist to nourish me along the journey.

 
During the Baptismal Rite in the Catholic Church there is the “Prayer Over the Water” in order to bless the waters in preparation for Baptism. Over the waters we pray,

 

“Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs, which tells us of the wonders of your unseen power.

In Baptism we use your gift of water, which you have made a rich symbol of grace you give us in this sacrament.”

The prayer over the waters ends with this line about the Red Sea,

“Through the waters of the Red Sea you led Israel out of slavery to be an image of God’s people, set free from sin in Baptism.”

 

So my challenge for us is to be “all in”. Be like Dan who didn’t turn back even when things didn’t go as expected. Be like Moses who fearlessly led God’s people to freedom even when he didn’t think he could. Let us even be like the Israeli people who, although they turned back, got distracted, lost faith and continually disobeyed God, always remembered and retold that epic story of how God rescued them from Death through the waters of the Red Sea. Let us, “God’s people”, constantly recall our own Baptism as the most significant story in our lives, where God rescued us from slavery, from sin and from death.

Should We Baptize Infants?

        I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been working on a paper, which is why this blog post is so well researched! Enjoy my paper!
       

   The purpose of the sacraments of initiation are to mark the beginning of a conversion to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. They strengthen the believer on the path that they are committing to embark on for the rest of their lives. The most famous story of the Old Testament is the story of Moses and the Exodus. The crossing of the Red Sea marks the beginning of a long and arduous journey through the desert towards the Promised Land. That miraculous event gave strength to the Israelites and took place as a type of Baptism for the chosen people. They made a choice to turn away from literal slavery which, for us, represents the slavery of sin. The decision to turn away from sin and towards the Promised Land is an interior decision which is marked with an exterior event. In other words a spiritual event (conversion) is marked by a physical event (baptism). This physical and spiritual intermingling is the ritualizing of a conversion experience. 

        In scripture we see the point of the sacraments of initiation clearly. In baptism specifically, we see repentance of sin as an important element of what that sacrament symbolizes. In Acts 2:38, Matthew 3:5-6, Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3 the confession or remission of sins is mentioned with Baptism. This suggests that baptism is usually identified as a choice, a desire to live a new life in Christ, meaning it is a physical expression of a spiritual conversion. I would argue that our sacraments of initiation need a reformation back to being expressions of this conversion experience. Baptism should not be performed on infants who do not have the mental capacity to make the conscious choice to be a disciple of Christ. It should be open to anyone who feels they are ready for a conversion to Christ at whatever time they feel they are ready. This would allow people who are in the midst of a conversion to use the ritual as an expression of that conversion. 

Arguments 

 The Urgency of Baptism

Baptism starts to be practiced sometime in the 4th and 5th centuries because of a fear of Hell rather than as a conversion to Christ. Augustine seems to initiate this thinking when he says,

“Likewise, whosoever says that those children who depart out of this life without partaking of that sacrament shall be made alive in Christ, certainly contradicts the apostolic declaration, and condemns the universal Church, in which it is the practice to lose no time and run in haste to administer baptism to infant children, because it is believed, as an indubitable truth, that otherwise they cannot be made alive in Christ.” (Augustine, 53)

However the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that,

“As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.” (CCC 1261)

Baptism cannot be a sacrament that is done out of fear. If we are doing any religious action because of a fear of Hell then, we are missing the point of why Christ came to us entirely. Baptism is a sacrament of love, but only if we make baptism a ritualization of our conversion to Christ. Christ came, so that we may be able to choose to follow him.
    

Christ seems to focus on the spiritual significance rather than the physical ritual as it is often portrayed in the scriptures. Jesus says, “…there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (Mark 7:15 NRSV). It seems that most of his interactions with the Pharisees involve some sort of teaching about the importance of the spiritual aspects of the faith over the ritualistic aspects of the faith. This is not to say that Jesus did not see the significance of ritual and our human need to express things in a physical way. Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. ” (Matthew 5:17). Modern Catholicism has put so much importance on the ritual of baptism that we have forgotten the spiritual conversion, including the most obvious evidence of a conversion: a repentance of sins and a commitment to Christ.
Free Will and the Imposition of Grace

    Faith and the reception of grace is never forced or imposed on a person against their will. God does not coerce anyone into faith, 

“ It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will. ” (Paul VI, n.10)

The Code of Canon Law states that for adults not only must they have an intention to receive baptism, but there is a set of obligations they need to be conscious of, “For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism… ” (Can. 865 §1). 

Aquinas goes so far as to say that a person who is baptized without intention must be “rebaptized”, 

“…so must he, of his own will, intend to lead a new life, the beginning of which is precisely the receiving of the sacrament. Therefore on the part of the one baptized, it is necessary for him to have the will or intention of receiving the sacrament….If an adult lack the intention of receiving the sacrament, he must be rebaptized.” (Aquinas, Article 7)

        After looking at the importance of intention in baptism described by the magisterium and our greatest theologians, we should not baptize infants against their free-will. To be clear, it is not to be taken that infants receive no grace when they are baptized, only that the graces they receive lay dormant until it is accepted by the baptized. Augustine said that one, 

“who lacks charity, whether he be carried away outside the Church at once by some blast of temptation… if they have once been born in baptism, need not be born again”. (Augustine, 22). 

This suggests that the fruits of baptism do not emerge until it is accepted through the will of the recipient. The Catechism reinforces this when it says, “No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.” (CCC 1272) If this is the case, then we ought to wait, allowing a child to mature and make the decision for themselves to be initiated into the Catholic faith. All three sacraments of initiation should be done at once, with a repentance of sins and a conscious devotion to living a Christian life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This would also solve the problem of separation of the sacraments of initiation.

Counter Arguments and Refutations

Baptism as a type of circumcision

It is argued that since baptism is the New Testament equivalent of circumcision, and since circumcision was done at infancy, then baptism too should be done at infancy. The problem is that although this is true, circumcision (and much of the Old Testament thought) was focused on being included into the “people of God”. The New Testament focus was to open up that inclusion to everyone. Paul is suggesting that the meaning of circumcision needs to change to that of conversion in Romans 2:28-29 when he says, “a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal”. Circumcision was supposed to be about a spiritual turning towards Christ and in 1 Corinthians 7:19 he says, 

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.”

In baptism, the spiritual conversion and desire to live according to the Christian life should be our focus. Infant baptism separates, with time, the physical expression of conversion and the spiritual conversion. If a conversion to Christ happens for a Catholic, it happens long after their baptism.

Grace as early as possible

    As stated earlier, grace is useless without the cooperation of a person’s will. There is no urgency in getting the graces of baptism to a child if those graces cannot bear fruit until the person has accepted it. We do not need to fear that a child will go into limbo or Hell if they are not baptized (CCC, 1261). As stated earlier, we can trust that God’s mercy and justice will not be hindered by the physical act of baptism. Although the sacrament of Baptism is said to be necessary for salvation Augustine says that there is a “Baptism of Desire”, “which, with God, counts for the deed.” (Aquinas, Article 2) Therefore there is no urgency in being baptized because we can believe baptism will occur without the physical act if the desire is there. Tertullian even encourages waiting to baptize children when he says, “And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children.” (Tertullian, III: 678)

Scripture suggests households were baptized

The argument is that in 1 Corinthians 1:16 Paul says, “I did baptize also the household of Stephanas…” and the word “household” would include children of all ages. This is a valid argument although it is not a strong enough argument to stand on its own. Let us assume that baptism was presumed in the scripture to only be for adults. If this is true the word “household” probably would have been used to mean “all those in the house eligible for baptism.” They would make the assumption that people would know who is to be baptized in the household. There is enough reasonable doubt in this argument that we should not base our theology of baptism solely on it.

When should the mentally delayed be baptized?

The argument is, if choosing to be a follower of Christ is the key to being baptized, then someone with a severe mental handicap would not be able to choose. I would say that most people who suffer with a mental handicap are able to make some gesture of acceptance of the sacraments, even if it is non-verbal. For those who cannot, since no choice can ever be expressed to another person, (although the choice could possibly still be made internally, just not expressed) then baptism would be done as it is with infants where the parents choose on behalf of the mentally delayed person. In this particular case, a physical baptism would always be contingent on a “baptism of desire” (mentioned earlier) and the child’s desire to be baptized would take precedence. 

Conclusion

Baptism in the scriptures in all its manifestations and symbolism was always primarily about a turning away from sin and towards Christ. Baptism has always been seen as a beginning to a new life or 

“being born again of water and spirit” (John 3:5). 

Although over the years the preparation has changed, it has always focused on fostering that conversion experience. Slowly the importance of the rituals seems to overtake the importance of the spiritual conversion, but above all Christ wanted to create disciples of all nations and the beginning of that was baptism (Matt. 28:19). The Catholic Church seems to have many members but few disciples, because discipleship requires a decision to turn away from sin and selfishness towards Jesus Christ. Baptism was always meant to mark the beginning of that journey, just as it did for the Israelites when they crossed the Red Sea.

Ordain a Lady (Deaconesses)

  
This post is not about women becoming priests, for that see both sides of the argument below. (Ok that might be bias but Peter Kreeft gives a good account of the argument here)

If you need a good laugh and like horrible singing to a catchy Carly Rae Jepson tune, then watch the video Ordain a Lady!

Today I want to discuss specifically women being ordained Deacons, not priests. 

  

Argument from History

We used to have female deacons. That is a very well documented fact. Now I’ve heard from many conservative sources that they used to be called Deaconesses. I’ve also heard that the only reason we had “deaconesses” was because the baptism of adults was done naked. However, I’ve also heard from the professor of my sacraments course that women deacons were never called deaconesses, but were also just called deacons. This appears to be true if you look at the direct sources from the church fathers and early church.

Regardless of this fact it remains that we have had women who acted as deacons, even if it was only for baptism. Even if this was an exception to the rule, it proves that there is no theoretical reason that women cannot be deacons. Maybe it was a cultural practice, circumstantial, a necessary break from the norm, but whatever the reason there is no theological reason women cannot be deacons or they never would have been. Women were deacons, therefore they could conceivably be deacons again.

  

Argument from Theology (In Persona Christe)

So then why can’t women be ordained priest but they can be ordained deacons? Well when a priest celebrates Mass or forgives sins in reconciliation, he is acting “in persona Christe” or “in the person of Christ”. This means that in a sense the priest becomes Christ. The problem then becomes sexuality, is Jesus being male a coincidence or is it part of his substance, who he is? Is God being called Father just a man made invention from a patriarchal society? I would suggest that the maleness of God has a much deeper meaning. (I’ll save that for another blog post though!)

To get back to the point, deacons can baptize, give homilies, celebrate weddings etc. None of those things require him to do something supernatural like forgive sins or turn bread into the body of Christ. My point is that there is no theological reason women cannot be deacons since that is the reason women cannot be priests. 

Slippery Slope Counter Argument 

This is one argument, and I think the main argument people have with women deacons. The “This is one step towards women being priests” argument.

Slippery slope arguments are one of Aristotles logical fallacies. Basically it’s when someone says “if we allow this one thing to happen, then a series of much worse things will happen.” The reason it is a fallacy is because when one thing happens, there is no reason that the next thing will happen. If a women becomes a deacon maybe some will see it as a step to women becoming priests but that does not necessarily follow. In other words there is no reason women would have to be allowed to become priests if they become deacons because of what I said above about priests being “in persona Christe”.

  

In conclusion I would say that we cannot be afraid of change just because it is different. Too often we are against something because it “feels wrongs” or “unnatural”. We need to base our opinions in logical facts and have reasons why we believe things. There are things in the church that will never change, but there are things that can. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask the necessary questions. Can this change? Should it? What are the consequences? Why has it been like this for so long?  I am open to hear other people’s opinions on this, although I think I’m right, there is a lot I don’t know about this topic.

Bill Nye “the Barely a Science Guy” …. Guy

Bill Nye Video on Abortion


Please watch the video by Bill Nye in the link above before reading further.

First let’s address the fact that Bill Nye is not a scientist, he’s an actor. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell. Engineering is an important subject that requires a high degree of intelligence but engineers are not scientists. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, but that doesn’t make me an artist. Bill is also not a philosopher and clearly has never studied philosophy. If he did he would know that a straw-man argument is when you present your opponents argument falsely so you can tear it down. Maybe Bill should take a philosophy class then he would literally know what he is talking about since this debate has equally as much to do with philosophy as it does with science.

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So why is his argument false? Bill Nye’s main argument is that fertilized eggs often do not implant and therefore are naturally terminated before implantation. I use the word naturally because there is no intent to end the life that has begun. Morally evil acts must have the intention behind them, this is the difference between manslaughter and murder. Murder is the intentional ending of a persons life, which is what I would argue abortion is. If someone dies of old age we don’t have a trial as Nye so disingenuously suggested we do when a fertilized egg does not implant. Secondly, Bill Nye does not offer an alternative explanation of when we should not abort. It seems to me he was suggesting that it is an important life once the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall. So Bill let’s stop the 99% of abortions that happen after it implants.

My main criticism of Bill’s video is how arrogant he is to say “You literally don’t know what you’re talking about.” It is one thing to disagree with people and have a debate with them, it is another to insult their intelligence. I gave Bill Nye credit for discussing evolution in a debate with a creationist, because engaging in debate says “I don’t think you’re unworthy of my time, but I do think you’re wrong”. Saying people don’t know what they are talking about is ignorant and suggests that Bill thinks he’s “above” everyone pro-life. Engage in a debate Bill, and then you won’t be able to use ignorant straw-man arguments to prove you’re point. The ironic part of it is that he accuses white men of European descent of promoting these oppressive ideas from on high! Oh wait Bill, aren’t you a white male of European descent promoting your ideas from your elevated platform because you think you know more than everyone since you had a children’s show about science?

*I’d also like to add that Bill Nye turns this into a religious issue when there are many secular people who are pro-life. He claims the reasons of this “ignorance of science” is because of a 5000 year old book. My reasons for being pro-life have little to do with religion, but has a lot to do with philosophy, logic and science. Check out Secular Pro-Life on Facebook.

Here is a video that explains how science can explain how abortion is wrong, Catholic Answers – When Does Human Life Begin?

Lady Gaga on Rape Culture

Lady Gaga – Til It Happens To You
  
Lady Gaga* recently came out with a new music video. Different from her usual videos, this one is about the harm and seriousness of “Rape Culture” in our modern society. Now normally I am not a fan of Lady Gaga at all, but this video is very good. I encourage everyone to watch it, even if you strongly dislike Lady Gaga as I do. The song and video are both in support of a documentary on rape. They show the pain and isolation our rape culture causes. It is a powerful social commentary.

The problem is that rape culture goes far beyond just rape, hence the title rape culture. It is the whole culture that is infected with this syndrome which includes sex trafficking, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution and the general sexualization of our media. The criticism I have of Lady Gaga is that our rape culture starts with her other music videos which I would consider to be Pornographic. The Pornographication of our society that Lady Gaga doesn’t seem to have a problem with at all and even promotes and is a part of, is the first cause of our rape culture. 
Lady Gaga promotes young girls and boys to have promiscuous sex by glamorizing sex. She entices boys to objectify her by showcasing her body which primes them to become rapists! Now that may seem like a stretch but we can see studies that show violent pornography is directly correlated with rape myth acceptance and non-violent pornography, also contributes although not as much. It is also well known that softer forms of pornography lead to more extreme and violent forms of pornography. Study on the Relationship Between Rape and Pornography

  
 The point of writing this is to point out the hypocrisy of the rape culture. It is often perpetuated by the very people who are speaking out against it. Now at this point it may appear as me, a male, pointing out that rape culture is women’s own fault. “Victim blaming” women for dressing in a certain way suggesting they are “asking for it”. However, I believe Lady Gaga (the person) is in fact one of the many victims of rape culture, probably being used and persuaded into be as provocative as possible by men on her production team. We blame porn on the women depicted on screen when the producers and owners of pornography are all men. The people making money and taking pleasure from our rape culture is  almost always men, while women are usually used. Which brings to mind the saying “getting their cake and eating it too”.

The solution is that every person male and female needs to reject the sexualization of our culture, as Saint John Paul II called it the “Culture of Death”. This feels insurmountable but we must unite men and women together and stand up against this sexualization attitude. Sex is an act of love that our society has perverted and defiled. Let’s work together to transform this rape culture. The only way to do this is to place Love as the highest good, which means knocking pleasure and selfishness out of contention for first place in our own lives. 

*when I refer to Lady Gaga, I refer to her as the person but also as the corporation her name represents. It is impossible for me to tell where the line is between her as a person and her as a brand*