Anti-Christian Science Becoming More Blatant
The first step in persecution is portraying
a group as standing in the way of progress
Two articles highlighted below will be used to justify the headline that science is being used to vilify Christians. That’s an insufficient sample, to be sure, but one support for this view is the absence of debate about it. Usually, when there is controversy about some scientific theory or paper, journals will print alternative views by other scientists. A printed debate is labeled as a “matter arising” about the subject. A critique is printed, and the original author has an opportunity to respond. If serious enough, the journal may print an “editorial expression of concern” about a paper, which might lead to a retraction.
There is no such “matter arising” about these articles. The silence amounts to de facto endorsement by the Big Science consensus. These articles, written by professors at major universities in the name of “science” and reprinted by science news outlets like Phys.org, amount to direct quasi-scientific attacks on what Christians believe. Christians—particularly evangelicals—are portrayed as standing in the way of progress. That is the first step a society can take toward persecuting them.
Pro-Life Views as Anti-Science
In The Conversation, Sahotra Sarkar takes aim at the pro-life movement. Sarkar is Professor of Philosophy and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts. He launched his pro-abortion attack after the recent Supreme Court decision that did not stop a Texas “heartbeat bill” that bans abortion when a baby’s first heartbeat it is detected. (The bill does not “ban” such abortions; it only permits lawsuits against institutions performing them.)
Knowing that it is primarily evangelical Christians and Catholics who stand in the way of “abortion rights” (note the prejudicial term), Sarkar uses the term “religious beliefs” to describe the motivation for abortion restrictions such as the Texas law. What he means is clear when he fingers Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio, both white evangelical Protestants, as examples of bogeymen.
Sarkar argues the view that “When human life begins is a question of politics – not biology.” This implies that scientific evidence has nothing to say about it.
As a biologist and philosopher, I have been watching players in the national abortion debate make claims about biology for many years.
Abortion rights opponents know that Americans have widely differing values and religious beliefs about abortion and the protection of human life. So they seek to use science as an absolute standard in any discussion of abortion’s constitutionality, setting a definition of human life that they hope will be immune to any counterargument.
While possibly well-intentioned, this appeal to scientific authority and evidence over discussions of people’s values is based on faulty reasoning. Philosophers such as the late Bernard Williams have long pointed out that understanding what it is to be human requires a lot more than biology. And scientists can’t establish when a fertilized cell or embryo or fetus becomes a human being.
The prejudicial language is evident here: he says the use of science to support restrictions on abortion is “possibly well-intentioned” – which, by implication, means he thinks it is probably not. He thinks it is nefarious. He thinks it is evil. He thinks it is illogical and unscientific for Christians to use science in support of restrictions on “abortion rights.” Using his prestige as a scientist and philosopher he pontificates that there is no absolute standard for when life begins, even though, as we reported 1 Sept 2021, US research labs have detected a “fireworks show” of zinc sparks at the moment of conception. To him; that is just “politics, not biology.”
But look at the implications of his view. If politicians and philosophers can decide “what it is to be human,” a Pandora’s Box of evil opens. Any culture, any society, or any government can label the “fetus” at a given stage to be non-human, with no scientific justification at all. And the result of such thinking can become justification for killing them, cutting them up and throwing them in the trash.
Suppose some future regime decides that professors of philosophy at state universities are not really human because they stand in the way of the regime’s progress. Wasn’t that the justification that the Khmer Rouge used to slaughter people indiscriminately in Cambodia, with particular animus at the rich and the scientific elite? That was in the late 1970s, within the living memory of everyone over 50. Sarkar had better think hard about what he is saying.
Sarkar’s logic needs to be airtight to justify his loose concept of “what it is to be human.” His science must be solid to vilify the “religious” who want to close Pandora’s Box that was opened by the Supreme Court in 1973 — a 5/4 decision that is widely regarded as poorly reasoned (basically inventing a “right to abortion” out of thin air, not from the Constitution). And his politics had better be able to withstand the inconvenient history that “abortion rights” have largely been used to kill blacks in the womb, as was intended by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, a racist bigot who lived a licentious lifestyle that made babies inconvenient (9 April 2018).
So what is Sarkar’s justification that science cannot decide when a baby is a human being? He lists 5 possible points in development that could be used to identify the start of human life:
- Gastrulation, when an embryo can no longer become twins
- Brain waves at 24-27 weeks
Thinking people should gasp at the implications of this list, which Sarkar treats as equally subjective points to determine “what it is to be human.” He would not be against infanticide. Some abortionists these days are killing children after they are born! His scientific logic is equally flawed. Responding conception, he acknowledges it as the point “when a zygote is formed with the full human genetic material.” But then he says, with emphasis,
But almost every cell in everyone’s body contains that person’s complete DNA sequence. If genetic material alone makes a potential human being, then when we shed skin cells – as we do all the time – we are severing potential human beings.
This “professor of philosophy and integrative biology” should be ashamed if he cannot reason better than this. Shedding your skin cells is not giving birth to a complete, unique human individual. Of course your zygote’s cells divided trillions of times, copying your genome into every subsequent cell with extreme high fidelity. That is not the issue! The issue is the beginning of a unique individual human life, which begins at conception.
Regarding gastrulation and twins, it can be granted that identical twins share a common genome. Is Sarkar justified in saying that neither of them were human before the embryo divided? That is a non-sequitur. Here is his argument in a nutshell: “because twins share a genome at gastrulation, abortionists are justified in cutting up human embryos at any stage of life.” His remaining three stages become justifications for late-term abortions, all the way to birth.
The overall point is that biology does not determine when human life begins. It is a question that can only be answered by appealing to our values, examining what we take to be human.
Perhaps biologists of the future will learn more. Until then, when human life begins during fetal developments is a question for philosophers and theologians. And policies based on an answer to that question will remain up to politicians – and judges.
God help professors of philosophy and integrative biology if they think politicians, judges and subjective appeals to “our values” are capable of deciding when life begins. There is one objective, scientific answer: the coming together of a unique genome at fertilization. All the rest flows downstream from that instant. The zinc fireworks celebrates a new, unique individual is on the way.
Recommended reading: Michael Brown at WND empathizes with “angry pro-choice women” who think men can’t possibly understand the difficulties of carrying a baby to term. He gently tries to persuade them that “those of us who hold dear the value of every human being, beginning in the womb, are not your enemies.”
Traditional Values as Anti-Science
The other article we highlight as an example of anti-Christian “science” becoming more blatant comes from the Newsroom at Washington University in St Louis. Reporter Sara Savat asks, in big bold letters, “Cultural backlash: Is LGBTQ progress an attack on Christianity?” Her answer (that it is not an attack at all), draws on science: “Research also identifies how leaders can harness religious value to encourage acceptance.” The “research” was done by Clara L. Wilkins,”principal investigator and associate professor of psychological and brain sciences, and Lerone A. Martin, co-principal investigator and director of American culture studies at the university. Vested with the authority of science, and undergoing “research,” they concluded that Christians stand in the way of progress. They should overcome their fears of LGBTQ people and accept non-traditional values.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis sought to understand whether that sentiment is widely shared by other Christians. Their findings from five separate studies conducted over 3½ years shed light on the root causes and consequences of such “zero-sum beliefs” — a belief that social gains for one group necessarily involves losses for the other — about Christianity and the LGBTQ community, and offer possible interventions to reduce such all-or-nothing beliefs.
Critical thinkers evaluating this article should note the hidden assumptions. Their use of the term “Zero-sum beliefs” is an attack on absolute moral values. It results in a promotion of relativism. Here is a list of some of their hidden assumptions:
- Traditional values are narrow-minded.
- LGBTQ values are good. They represent progress.
- Of the two, it’s the Christians who need to change their values.
- Christians have an unwarranted fear of LGBTQ values.
- It’s morally good to be “accepting” of people even if their values differ.
- There are no universal values. All values are relative.
- Beliefs in absolutes must be reduced.
- Interventions are necessary to change Christian beliefs.
None of those assumptions are scientific. They are theological in nature. Values relate to morals that mean nothing unless they are eternal. If what Wilkins and Martin think are nice values to have now, they could change in a few years and become bad values in the future. Moral relativism is thus self-refuting, but the two “researchers” don’t perceive their logical fallacy. Their “can’t we all just get along” morality, if carried to its logical conclusion, would open the door to acceptance of values they would certainly be shocked at, like “cannibal rights” or “terrorist rights.”
Their hidden assumptions, listed above, actually constitute their own absolute moral standard that they wish to impose on Christians. They would likely be very intolerant of any Christian who disagreed with them, no matter how well argued or supported by evidence. Blinded by their own intolerance with the Yoda Complex, they position themselves as righteous crusaders on a campaign to “intervene” and alter the views of people who disagree with them. That is not science.
Wilkins and Martin also err grievously by what they don’t say. A well-researched article about whether LGBTQ “progress” represents an “attack on Christianity” should have mentioned the very real attacks on Baronelle Stutzman, Jack Phillips and other vendors whose lives have been threatened and businesses destroyed by LGBTQ activists (see article on Breakpoint about this). If that is not an attack, what is? One of the main reasons for the rise of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and other Christian defense groups is to defend individuals like these whose lives and careers are being attacked by the left, whether over evolution, family values, sex/gender issues or other Christian positions of conscience.
Update 9/04/2021: After we posted this article, Bob Unruh at WND reported additional complaints about the study, some also coming from Decision magazine, with evidence that Christians are being attacked by LGBTQ activists.
Values within moral standards can differ. The Apostle Paul allowed for those in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 10. Those personal differences, however, which call for patient acceptance and sensitive treatment, concern human understanding of moral standards, which is often imperfect. As Christians mature in their understanding of liberty in Christ, they are free to change their sub-values about food, days of the week to worship and other habits taught from youth. That’s a different issue than whether morality per se is absolute or relative. In fact, one has to presume absolute morals exist in order to promote views about what other human beings “should” do.
The real bigots are the ones on the Left, like these “researchers” at Washington University who feel compelled to nudge people out of beliefs they don’t like. What starts as nudging one day can become persecution later. Let’s ask Wilkins and Martin what they think about the Stutzman and Phillips cases. Would they favor heavy penalties and possible imprisonment for any business owner whose conscience does not allow them to indicate support for LGBTQ views? That would be an instructive question.
Consider sharing this entry with your pastor. One business was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars recently for “emotional distress” to a transgender who was not allowed to enter the women’s bathroom, even though the managers tried to accommodate him by providing a unisex private bathroom (story at World Magazine). Churches may be the next victims.