Recently in Morality, Religion & Philosophy Category


I'd love for Bill Clinton to elaborate on what you used to be able to "do to somebody against their will"!

Former President Bill Clinton suggested the "norms have changed" in society for what "you can do to somebody against their will" in response to a question about former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken's resignation from Congress following sexual harassment allegations.

"I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work," Clinton told PBS Newshour in an interview that aired Thursday.

I especially love Clinton's use of the non-gendered "their".


Planned Parenthood partners have settled a lawsuit alleging that they sold baby parts. The settlement will put them out of business in California.

According to the settlement signed Monday, DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC, both based in Yorba Linda, must cease all operations in California within 60 to 120 days. The agreement also requires the companies to admit liability for violations of state and federal laws prohibiting the sale or purchase of fetal tissue for research purposes, prosecutors said.

Also named as defendants in the settlement were company principals Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr. and Andres Isaias.

"This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration. These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the state of California," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.

So yes, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates do kill babies and sell their parts.


Paula Bolyard lists out numerous media outlets who refuse to count an unborn baby as a "real" victim.

Take, for instance, the Chicago Tribune, which wrote, "Kelley shot and killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because one of the victims was pregnant." The newspaper didn't want to get caught recognizing the humanity of the unborn baby, so they deferred to "authorities." There wasn't a deceased baby, there was a pregnant victim, according to the Tribune.

CNN wrote that "the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs will reopen its sanctuary as a memorial on Sunday, one week after a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child." In other words, 25 real people and one blob of tissue.

At USA Today, they didn't even try to cloak their hostility toward unborn babies in clever wording. "The memorial ceremony was a block away from the First Baptist Church, which is slated for demolition after the massacre during Sunday services Nov. 5 that killed 25 people including a pregnant woman and wounded 20," an article declared.

And many more.

Obviously if an unborn child can be a victim of a shooting, he can be a victim of an abortion.

That "plus one" baby had a name: "Carlin Brite 'Billy Bob' Holcombe." John Holcombe, who was shot in the leg but survived the shooting alongside two of his children, wrote on Facebook that the name "includes [his wife] Crystal's pick for a girl, a boy and the nickname the kids gave the baby." Holcombe lost a total of eight family members in the shooting.


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)


Since rogue AI is in the news recently, it's worth remembering that AI can be dangerous even if it isn't malevolent. Nick Bostrum's paperclip maximizer is the canonical example.

First described by Bostrom (2003), a paperclip maximizer is an artificial general intelligence (AGI) whose goal is to maximize the number of paperclips in its collection. If it has been constructed with a roughly human level of general intelligence, the AGI might collect paperclips, earn money to buy paperclips, or begin to manufacture paperclips.

Most importantly, however, it would undergo an intelligence explosion: It would work to improve its own intelligence, where "intelligence" is understood in the sense of optimization power, the ability to maximize a reward/utility function--in this case, the number of paperclips. The AGI would improve its intelligence, not because it values more intelligence in its own right, but because more intelligence would help it achieve its goal of accumulating paperclips. Having increased its intelligence, it would produce more paperclips, and also use its enhanced abilities to further self-improve. Continuing this process, it would undergo an intelligence explosion and reach far-above-human levels.

It would innovate better and better techniques to maximize the number of paperclips. At some point, it might convert most of the matter in the solar system into paperclips.


It's fascinating to watch non-religious people react with wide-eyed astonishment at the decision of Vice President Mike Pence and his wife to observe what many call "the Billy Graham rule".

A story about Billy Graham goes something like this: In 1949 or 1950, after one of his famous evangelistic meetings, Graham returned to his hotel room to find a naked woman lying on his bed, ready to seduce him in an attempt to destroy his ministry. Graham, cautious and humble as usual, fled the hotel room and immediately implemented a rule that would come to bear his name: From that day forward, Graham would not travel (including by car), eat or meet alone with a woman other than his wife, Ruth. ...

Recently, a Washington Post article about second lady Karen Pence has brought the Billy Graham Rule back into the public eye. The article cites a 2002 interview with Vice President Pence -- who has called himself an "evangelical Catholic" -- saying that he "never eats alone with a woman other than his wife," and that he doesn't attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him as well.

Generally the response from the left has been to focus on the impact of this rule on the women that Mike Pence won't meet with privately -- it's not fair to be denied private access to the Vice President.

But good intentions do not always produce helpful consequences. In this case, the Billy Graham Rule risks reducing women to sexual temptations, objects, things to be avoided. It perpetuates an old boys' club mentality, excluding women from important work and career conversations simply by virtue of their sex.

But why should the Pences' personal decisions about their marriage be subject to public judgement? Why should they be required to run their marriage in a way that most benefits the careers of the women around them?

As the entire internet has noted by now: Bill Clinton's affair with an intern in the Oval Office was declared to be a personal matter, and certainly had no impact on his job performance or the career prospects of the women around him. It's hard to see how the Pences' approach to marriage is more offensive or dangerous than established presidential standard.


Dystopic writes about morality middlemen, wherein a person derives his moral standing from how much money he takes from one party and gives to another.

Taxing one person to benefit another isn't charity. Taxation (for good and ill) is performed under the threat of force, and charity is always voluntary.

The person who takes the most wealth from one person and gives it to another is the pinnacle of proper Progressivism, the greatest of their moral agents.

Who the wealth is taken from, and who it is given to, doesn't really matter from any moral perspective (it matters in other ways), so long as the wealth is taken. You might take millions from a man who cured cancer, and give it to a bunch of barbarian slavers in the Third World, but all is good because the millions were taken.

The middleman gets all the credit, of course. Lesser Progressives must bow to his superior morality, that he managed to steal more from one to bribe another to do his political bidding. The taxpayer is insulted for not giving more of his wealth to the government. There is no gratitude.

The media is most moral, and the guy living in the sticks least moral, for no matter what he might do for the poor, no one is there to see it, therefore it isn't moral.

If a person helps another, and the cameras aren't there to record it, it is as if it never happened.


Sometimes what you refuse to say speaks pretty clearly; here, during an interview with Tucker Carlson, Planned Parenthood's executive vice president Dawn Laguens refuses to say whether she believes that a fetus is a human being.

Laguens knows the answer, but she's got a mortgage to pay. Maybe late at night she worries a little... but what would her friends say if she dared voice her doubts? How would she feed her own kids without the executive vice president paycheck? She might not get invited back on television ever again. Those babies aren't "viable" anyway. Don't think too much about it. Cash the check.

Carlson: With respect, I've let you repeat your talking points . . . But I want to take it just a level deeper . . . People say, "Look, this is killing a life. A heart is beating." You can hear it at five and a half weeks and the majority of our abortions take place after five and a half weeks. So I want to know if that bothers you at all. . . . Do you ever stop and think, wow, what is happening here? Is a life being taken?

Laguens: I personally favor safe, legal abortion in this country decided on by each individual woman and her doctor to decide for themselves. I personally do not believe that that is a viable fetus at that point. Carlson: I'm not saying viable. Is it - Laguens: And there are rules -- well there are rules we follow. Roe v. Wade laid out -

Carlson: Why are you giving me robotic responses? I'm asking you a human question, and I hope you'll favor me with a human answer. I'm not saying it's viable; at five and a half [weeks] it's not. But you can hear the heartbeat. Is that a human being or not? Is it separate from the mother or not? Different blood type, often a different sex, different DNA. It doesn't seem like a tumor or something that is connected to the woman wholly. It's distinct. What does that mean? I would think you would've thought about it considering you provide more of them than anyone.

Laguens: I have thought about it very much for myself, but I am not going to project onto other women what I believe. What I believe is that women have the right and the choice and we're going to leave it up to them.

Alexandra Desanctis comments:

Laguens didn't avoid Carlson's questions because she didn't know the answers. She didn't avoid them because she believes that each individual woman actually possesses the power to determine whether or not the organism growing inside her is, in fact, a human being. She avoided the questions because the abortion industry is built on the lie that the unborn child isn't a living human, and if they acknowledge that this claim is fiction, their entire system will collapse.

Tucker Carlson is pretty fantastic these days.


You probably don't know who Lena Dunham is, which is why she's screeching for attention by glorifying abortion.

It's sad and pitiful that wealthy people like Dunham feel the need to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the weakest among us. Abortion kills a helpless, voiceless human being and causes severe, lasting damage to the mother and her family. Abortion should be mourned, not celebrated.

"I always thought that I myself didn't stigmatize abortion -- I'm an abortion rights activist, it's a huge part of who I am," Dunham said. But when a young girl asked her, as part of a project, to share the story of her abortion, Dunham "sort of jumped."

"I haven't had an abortion, I told her," the actress narrated. "I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women's options, I myself had never had an abortion. ... Even I felt it was important that people know that I was unblemished in this department."

Then Dunham said she was actually jealous of people who had had abortions. "So many people I love, my mother, my best friends, have had to have abortions for all kinds of reasons," she said. "I feel so proud of them for their bravery, for their self-knowledge, and it was a really important moment for me to realize that I had internalized some of what society was throwing at us."

"Now, I can say that I still haven't had an abortion, but I wish I had," Dunham concluded.


Jonah Goldberg proposes a brilliant thought experiment: we've got a "No Fly" list, and Leftists want a "No Buy" list for guns -- how about a "No Abort" list?

I have an idea.

The federal government needs to compile a list of women who shouldn't be allowed to get abortions. The criteria for getting on the list must be flexible. If an official at, say, the NIH or FBI think that a woman should be a mother for some reason or other, he or she can block an abortion. Maybe the woman has great genes or a high IQ or the sorts of financial resources we need in parents. Let's leave that decision where it belongs: in the hands of the government.

Heck, there's really no reason even to tell women if they're on the "no abort" list. Let them find out at the clinic. And if they go in for an abortion only to discover they are among the million or more people on the list, there will be no clear process for getting off it, even if it was a bureaucratic error or case of mistaken identity.

As Glenn Reynolds notes: "But the right to an abortion is secured by the courts. The right to own a gun is merely secured by the Constitution."

Goldberg goes on to catalog some of the maddening contradictions that the Left's pro-abortion devotion leads to.

There's a deep and perplexing contradiction here. If abortion is just another aspect of "women's health" -- currently the preferred euphemism for the procedure -- why have higher health and safety regulations for dentists than abortionists? If abortion is just another aspect of 'women's health' -- currently the preferred euphemism for the procedure -- why have higher health and safety regulations for dentists than abortionists?

But that's just the first of many contradictions. The court allowed Whole Woman's Health to sue in the first place, even though the company has no right to an abortion, and third parties aren't supposed to have standing to sue for someone else's constitutional rights. The Left loves to say "corporations aren't people" -- unless they're suing for abortion rights. Then the new mantra is: "Corporations are people, but human fetuses aren't."

Abortion is a shameful evil that stains humanity.


Language warning: Ice T says "fuck it". In this video from 2011 Ice T explains the benefits of calculated risk taking, and include a mention of Donald Trump.


Hillary has angered pro-abortion advocates by acknowledging the personhood of unborn children. Presumably she'll "correct" herself, which makes the evil of abortion even more apparent.

"The unborn person doesn't have constitutional rights," Mrs. Clinton said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Now that doesn't mean that we don't do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support."

As long as a mother wants her child to be healthy, "we" will give her and the child appropriate medical support. For a mother who wants an unhealthy child, "we" will help kill the baby and harvest his organs.


If you, like me, didn't watch the Super Bowl or any of the ads, well, here's the political angle you missed yesterday.

Doritos ran a hilarious ad in which an unborn baby ejects himself from the womb to buy a bag of Doritos. Naturally the pro-abortion people went crazy. Tweeted NARAL:

#NotBuyingIt - that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses

The doctor in the ad says that the baby is due "any day now", and I thought even the abortion profiteering industry acknowledged that full-term babies are human.

So, thanks Doritos! I can't eat you (too many carbs) but I'll buy a bag in support.


Marco Rubio is questioned by an atheist on the influence his faith will have on his potential presidency. I'm super-impressed.


Walter Russell Mead has written several excellent essays about Christmas this year, but this one is especially worth sharing: on the accessibility of the Gospel. It's hard to quote just a small bit, but here's the most interesting thesis to me:

If the Gospels came out of a culture that was closer to Western modernity, and they had therefore been written in ways that satisfied contemporary academic historiographic models (complete with photos and footnotes), the resulting 900 page biographies of Christ might be more satisfying to us, but perhaps much less accessible to poor farmers in Africa or simple fishermen in Indonesia.

Shockingly, that matters a great deal to God. The story of the Gospels is a story for everybody, not just for sophisticated, college educated citizens of advanced industrial democracies. Just as we find just enough common ground, intellectually and culturally, with these documents to grasp what they are getting at even while we are frustrated by their indifference to some of our cultural expectations, so other people in other places and times have found them clear enough to hear and believe. The Gospels occupy a kind of center point in human culture as a whole: products of a particular time and place, but comprehensible to all.


One really strange phenomenon since the horrific San Bernardino terrorist attack has been the media condemnation of those who have offered their thoughts and prayers to the victims.

Progressive and liberal politicians called for gun control. And other politicians prayed for the victims and their families while waiting for more information.

That's when things got super weird. For some reason, much of the media began mocking the efficacy of prayer. This was happening while victims of the shooting were actually asking people to pray. I mean, the critiques were everywhere. An editor at ThinkProgress said, and I quote, "Stop thinking. Stop praying." There's a bumper sticker for you!

Follow the link for images of all the bizarre targeting of Christians by prominent journalists.

I'm honestly not sure what possessed all of these media types to choose "people who pray" as the target of their anger. It was really weird and revealing. Almost more of a temper tantrum than anything else, particularly since progressives immediately turn to prayer of a different kind in the aftermath of tragedy.

Leftists pray to their god: government. The solution to every problem is to tax more, spend more, regulate more.

The theodicy of federal government seeks to defend the goodness of government in the face of tragedy. So just as some religious groups might blame a weather event on insufficient fealty to the relevant god, some progressives blame -- before we actually know what is even going on in a given tragedy -- insufficient fealty, sacrifice, and offerings to the relevant god of federal government. And so they explain that the god of good government would have been able to take care of us if only we'd given it sufficient power to do so.


Strange event in the lunch line. The guy in front of me buys a sandwich and bag of chips, and the cashier tells him, "You'd save a dollar if you got a drink with that. The combo is cheaper."

The guy says, "No thanks." He pays for his meal and walks off.

I step forward to pay for my soda and the cashier just waves me off. "Just take it. That guy paid for your soda already," she says, gesturing towards previous customer who is now walking away, oblivious. "Now I feel better," she says.

So what should I do?

  • Take my free soda and leave.
  • Catch the guy and offer him a dollar.
  • Catch the guy and offer him 50 cents.


What does the modern-day Molech demand? More baby livers.

David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress sat down for a meal in May with Cate Dyer, founder of StemExpress, which partnered with Planned Parenthood to sell organs to medical researchers.

"What would make your lab happy?" Daleiden asked.

"Another 50 livers a week," Dyer said. "We're working with, you know, almost like triple digit number of clinics. So it's a lot on volume. We still need more than what we do. So it's a lot. ... I don't think you're going to hit a capacity with us any time in the next 10 years."

The High Priests of Molech laugh about squeamish unbelievers.

StemExpress: I know we get requests for neural [tissue]. It's the hardest thing in the world to ship.

Buyer: You do it as the whole calvarium [the entire intact head of a dead baby].

StemExpress: That's it, yeah, that's the easiest way. And I mean we've actually had good success with that in the past.

Buyer: Yeah, Make sure the eyes are closed!

StemExpress: [Loud Laughter] Tell the lab it's coming. So they don't open the box and go, "Oh God!" [Laughter] So yeah, wheras so many of the academic labs cannot fly like that. They're just not capable.

Buyer: Why is that? I don't understand that.

StemExpress: It's almost like they don't want to know where it comes from. I can see that. Where they're like, "We need limbs, but no hands and feet need to be attached." [...] They want you to take it all off, like, "Make it so that we don't know what it is."

Buyer: Yeah. Bone the chicken for me and then I'll eat it.

StemExpress: That's it. But we know what it is [Laughter]. [...] Their lab techs freak out, and have meltdowns, and so it's just like, yeah.

Sacrificing children for medical research is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:2-5 (ESV)

2 "Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3 I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. 4 And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, 5 then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.


Ross Douthat at the New York Times explains that contraception and abortion are very different and should be unbundled. Let's separate contraception and family planning from dismembering babies.

If, like many of the moderate-liberal columnists writing on this issue, you are 1) made at least somewhat uncomfortable by the dismemberment of living human beings in utero but 2) are convinced that Planned Parenthood's non-abortion-related services are essential to the common good, why not write a column urging Planned Parenthood to, I dunno, get out of the dismemberment business? If all these other services are such a great, crucial, and (allegedly) abortion-reducing good, why do you, center-left journalist, want them perpetually held hostage to the possibility of public outrage over the crushing of tiny bodies in the womb? If a publicly-funded institution does one set of things you really like, and another thing that makes you morally uncomfortable, why are you constantly attacking that organization's critics and telling them that they just have to live with the combination, instead of urging the organization itself to refocus on the non-lethal, non-dismembering portions of its business? ...

So let's be clear about what's really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that's forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood's choice; it is liberalism's choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that's telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those "it's another boy!" fetal corpses in said institution's freezer, that's just the price of women's health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn't need your tax dollars?


Planned Parenthood kills born-alive infants for their body parts.

In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Ginde at the abortion-clinic headquarters of PPRM in Denver to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs. When the actors request intact fetal specimens, Ginde reveals that in PPRM's abortion practice, "Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact."

Since PPRM does not use digoxin or other feticide in its 2nd trimester procedures, any intact deliveries before an abortion are potentially born-alive infants under federal law (1 USC 8). ...

As the buyers and Planned Parenthood workers identify body parts from last fetus in the path lab, a Planned Parenthood medical assistant announces: "Another boy!"

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