C.S. Lewis begins his short, but must-read, book titled The Abolition of Man by talking about another book. Lewis received a book written by “Gaius” and “Titius,” (he used pseudonyms to spare them the public humiliation). This book, which Lewis called The Green Book, was so bad that Lewis wrote of the authors: “I shall have nothing good to say of them.” But what exactly does a book, originally published in 1944, have to do with today?
Well, what upset Lewis was how the authors interpreted a story that involved a man observing a waterfall. Gaius and Titius argued that the man is not commenting on the waterfall, but rather on his own feelings. Lewis argues that this line of thinking destroys education. Instead of reasoning what is true and what is false, in this case, what is true or false about the waterfall, everything is relative and based off feelings. The result is subjectivism and “the destruction of the society that accepts it.” Subjectivism has only gotten worse in the West since 1944.
A great example of this was in the New York Times opinion piece on Monday entitled “How to Talk About Abortion.” In concluding her article Laurie Shrage writes:
“Yet questions about individual moral behavior or personal ethics, which still generate wide disagreement based on religious diversity, are not really all that relevant to the issue of lawmaking. In short, what a good society does is based on a different set of considerations and principles than what a good person does.”
Shrage’s piece is timely because on Monday, Mississippi passed the most pro-life legislation in the country which bans abortion after 15 weeks. A good society needs to be a moral society, especially on the matter of abortion. Shrage talks about homosexuality, eating meat, and opioid usage as complementary examples. Sure, a free country should not exclude people by legislating against those things, but what does that have to do with abortion? Only someone who is completely ignorant of pro-life views or finds misrepresenting them politically advantageous could compare the abortion debate to the moral appropriateness of eating a steak.
For years the same arguments that were made in favor of slavery are made by the pro-abortion crowd today. Don’t like slavery? Then don’t own slaves! Don’t like abortion? Then don’t get an abortion yourself! The Supreme Court ruled in favor of slavery. The Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a Constitutional right. The slave does not have rights. A fetus is a clump of cells, and has no rights. My slave, my property. My body, my choice.
It is a good thing that there were those who said “No, moral behavior does matter” and who started the long, hard, and ultimately very deadly road of ending slavery in this country. Replace abortion with slavery and, if Shrage had her way, the abolitionists of the 19th century would have failed in their mission because morality, especially religious morality, is just too complicated for politicians.
Going back to Lewis, “It is the doctrine of objective value… that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false.” If we, pro-lifers, are correct in saying that life begins at conception, then saying issues of morality are irrelevant to lawmaking simply because one’s beliefs may or may not be influenced by religion is both scary and intellectually weak.
It is intellectually weak in that by saying “Oh, it’s too complicated, so what’s the point in arguing” Shrage has eliminated the need to find the truth by answering the question of when life begins. It is scary because if it is decided that life does not begin at conception or as Shrage argues, that it does not matter, then you have legitimized baby murder and created a death cult.
Lewis wrote over 70 years ago that subjectivism or relativism would destroy the concept of a liberal education. He was correct in that assessment and we are now seeing the consequences in one particular policy area, mainly in the millions of murdered babies, done in the defense of a procedure based not off scientific and moral truths, but “choice.”