The Evangelical Augustine

Normally, I have little interest in these silly online quizzes…but this one on Ethical Philosophy caught my attention. The philosophers with whom I score the closest match are:
1. St. Augustine (100%)
2. Aquinas (88%)
3. Plato (73%)
4. Ockham (62%)
5. John Stuart Mill (57%)
6. Aristotle (54%)
I found this quiz from Steve Bainbridge who scored closer to Ayn Rand (93%) than St. Augustine (87%). So…does that mean I’m a better Catholic than he is?

Part, Person, or Property:
The Connection Between Property Rights and Abortion

Comparing the similiarities between slavery and abortion is nothing new. In fact, attempts to show a resemblance between the two has become so common that the argument has become trite and stale. While I have always recognized the connection, I found the resemblance less than compelling and all but useless in a real world discussion of the issue.
But then I realized what I had been missing. Most pro-life arguments in this vein tend to focus on the issue of personhood. Like slaves, unborn children are denied full humanity. Once they are recognized as human, it is believed, then the “rights” of the unborn must be protected. The fatal flaw in this argument lies not in the logic but in the application. When the “rights” of the fetus conflict with the “rights” of the mother, the unborn child will lose out in just the same way that the slaves lost out to their owners.
The reason is because our Republic is founded on the primacy of property rights. As historian James Huston notes in “Calculating the Value of the Union”:

Fewer ideas had a more secure place in the minds of the Americans than the belief that civilization rested on property rights. As John Adams wrote in 1778, “Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty.” ….In fact for many of the late eighteenth century, the equation linking civilization and property rights was perfect: to have civilization, one had to have property rights of individuals protected. If property rights were not protected, then civilization could not exist.

Even after the humanity of the slaves was encoded into the law (e.g., Alexander Hamilton’s “three-fifths compromise”), slaves were treated as property. Why? Because the government declares what shall and shall not be considered property.*
Stop and read that sentence again because it holds profound implications for the aboriton debate. The government decides what is property and property rights are inviolable. Is it any surprise, then, that it took a Civil War to bring about abolition?

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Part, Person, or Property:
The Connection Between Property Rights and Abortion

Jesus the Logician

“The scandal of the evangelical mind,” historian Mark Nolls notes in his book of the same name, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Almost ten years have passed since “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” sounded a wake-up call to thinking Christians and over that time significant progress has been made. Though much work remains, evangelical Christians have regained much of the intellectual ground we have lost.
The real scandal, however, is that evangelicals fail so miserably in their commanded task of “putting on the mind of Christ.” As a group we should be fertile ground for producing intellectuals. After all, we are disciples of the greatest thinker in history – Jesus Christ.
In his essay, “Jesus the Logician”, philosopher Dallas Williard writes:

There is in our culture an uneasy relation between Jesus and intelligence, and I have actually heard Christians respond to my statement that Jesus is the most intelligent man who ever lived by saying that it is an oxymoron. Today we automatically position him away from (or even in opposition to) the intellect and intellectual life. Almost no one would consider him to be a thinker, addressing the same issues as, say, Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger or Wittgenstein, and with the same logical method.

Williard’s article not only explains why Christians should consider Jesus the foremost thinker in history but outlines how he was a formidable logician. All Christians (but especially bloggers, a group which spends considerable effort in expressing opinions) have a duty to think as logically as possible. It is our duty to think like Christ.
For some, logic appears to be a daunting philosophical subject. Others fear it is a form of mathematics, an area in which they lack ability. But a person does not have to be versed in logical theory or know how to draw Venn diagrams, however, in order to think logically. What it requires is the ability to understand and recognize logical relations and to have the will to be logical.

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