The Pretension of Ignorance is the Basis for Pro-Abortion Politics

John C. Rankin

In my book, Jesus, in the Face of His Enemies (see teibooks.com), the issue of the weakest form of moral argument in human history is addressed. Namely – the pretension of ignorance, the “I don’t know argument.” And the Bible diagnoses it clearly – where the sons of Cain, the sons of the devil and the sons of the pro-abortion movement are all first cousins.

  • When we will not admit the truth of a matter;
  • And when we cannot market the lie;
  • We pretend not to know the answer to the definitive question at play.

In Genesis 4, Cain is jealous of his brother Abel because his younger brother’s offering to Yahweh is rooted in true thankfulness, being the “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock” (namely, the best of his best). Cain’s offering was from “some of the fruits of the soil” (namely, of a passive and secondary nature not rooted in true thankfulness).

So Yahweh is not pleased, Cain is angry at not having prevailed over both Yahweh and his brother, yet Yahweh says he has the power to master the sin at hand. Cain chooses otherwise. So he murders his brother out of jealously, and where we learn that hatred of God equals the root for hating image-bearers of God and thus murder, and this all leads to the cross.

“Then Yahweh said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’

” ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?’ “

  • Cain would not admit the truth, a matter of the will, for he would then have to repent, and this he was not going to do.
  • Cain could not tell Yahweh that his brother Abel was in a certain place, for he knew he could not fool Yahweh.
  • Can thus pretends to be ignorant, and then poses a spiteful question about being his brother’s keeper.
  • The weakest form of moral argument in history.

This folly repeats itself during Passion Week among some of the enemies of Jesus. Jesus says  that the father of his enemies is the devil (John 8:44), and also calls them “sons of hell” (Matthew 23:15).

In the text of Matthew 21:23-27, the chief priests and elders challenge the authority (read “credentials”) of Jesus to do what he does. Namely, he is an unschooled ersatz rabbi in their minds, from the rural Galilee with its interface with Gentile peoples. He is not like them, trained from age 4 to age 30 in Jerusalem to become rabbis, under such elite teachers as Hillel and Gamaliel.

In classic rabinnic style of answering a question with a question to probe for deeper truth, Jesus promises to answer them if they answer a question: “John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”

  • The chief priests and elders would not admit the truth, for if John’s baptism came from heaven, then so too the authority of Jesus to whom John testified, this they would not admit, as a matter of the will, for then they would then have to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as the Messiah – the one thing they were fiercely opposed to doing.
  • The chief priests and elders could not say John’s baptism came from men, for all the people held that John was a prophet, they feared the people and feared being stoned by them (cf. Luke 20:6). Reality check.
  • Thus, they answered, “We don’t know.”
  • The weakest form of moral argument in history.

In the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court 7-2 Roe v. Wade decision “legalizing” human abortion, the majority justices followed in the way of Cain and the enemies of Jesus:

“Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve this difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in  a position to speculate as to the answer” (410 U.S. 113 at 159).

  • The majority justices would not admit the truth, as a matter of the will, for if discrete biological human life begins at fertilization/conception, then they would have to repent of their purpose to legalize human abortion.
  • The majority justices could not market a lie and say that discrete biological human life begins at some other point, for there is no evidence for any other point. And they knew it.
  • Thus, they adopted a pretension of ignorance, cloaking a simple “We don’t know” logic in more opaque language, while knowing that the alleged lack of “consensus” is a fiction – namely, it was first demonstrated in 1859 how a spermatazoon fertilizes an ovum, and that fact has never been dislodged, and it undergirds every assumption today concerning in vitro fertilization on outward. And to throw theology and philosophy into a legal debate only serves as a feint to avoid accurate definition of terms re: biology. And too, in legal terms, to admit no consensus as to the central fact of the case being debated, means the case should have been thrown out. You cannot rule unless the facts are established first.
  • The weakest form of moral argument in history.

Thus, in the third pillar I identify in The Six Pillars of Biblical Power and The Six Pillars of Honest Politics (see teibooks.com), “the power of informed choice,” it first requires honest definition of terms.

Thus, 1) Cain, 2) the enemies of Jesus, and 3) the majority Roe v. Wade justices, all flee informed choice, taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance. This the weakest form of moral argument in history, and yet more than four decades after Roe, some 55+ million unborn children have been killed, their chauvinistically abandoned mothers have torn apart inside and out, and the social order thus upended along with many deleterious cognate effects. Where is the church, not in terms of protest and alternatives per se, but in terms of rigorous biblical theology and ethics able to change the political order through the power to love hard questions, and to win the hearts and minds of the nation?

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