The Logic Of Republican Theology

On televisions across the state of Indiana you can see a new ad that features Mitt Romney endorsing Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.  Mittens says:

As senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care. Richard will help stop the Reid-Pelosi agenda. There’s so much at stake, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.

You may remember that Mourdock, a teapartier’s teapartier, finished off Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary earlier this year. And now Republicans in Indiana have to live with this extremist, an extremist that an equally extreme Romney endorsed.

On Tuesday night,  Mourdock said this during a debate with his Democratic opponent:

I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. That it is something that God intended to happen.

Now, first of all, I want to address the “I struggled with it myself for a long time” comment. Richard Mourdock, from all accounts, is not a woman. He can’t “struggle” with anything related to the issue of rape and pregnancy. He can pretend to struggle with it, he can pretend to wring his hands over how difficult an issue it is, but he doesn’t have the slightest idea of what it would mean to be raped and then be forced—by the biggest of big government—to bear the rapist’s child.

It is a perverted mind that believes any man can genuinely speak to this issue, let alone “struggle” with it.

Then we have the issue of a rape-produced pregnancy being “something that God intended to happen.” I applaud Mourdock for following the logic of his fundamentalist views to their proper ends. At least he didn’t dodge what his Iron Age thinking compels him to conclude. If one thinks like Mourdock, the only consistent position he can take is, yes, the government should force women to bear all children conceived, even if they were conceived through violence, through a violation of their bodies.

Except that after the debate, in answering questions about his remarks above, Mourdock eventually betrayed the logic of his theology:

MOURDOCK: What I said was, in answering the question on my position of faith, I said that I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it, that God creates life.

QUESTIONER: And so even if that happens in a rape situation, you still firmly believe that to be true?

MOURDOCK: That God creates life? Absolutely. I mean, God is the only one that can create life.

QUESTIONER: You said, quote, I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen…

MOURDOCK: …that life would be created…

QUESTIONER: …that life specifically?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I think God creates every life.

QUESTIONER: That life was created because of rape. How can you…

MOURDOCK: …no, no, no…

QUESTIONER: …How can you support that?

MOURDOCK: No, no, no. God creates life. God creates life. We don’t make life, uh, you know, in machines. God creates life. It’s a simple fact. I mean, God creates life. Does God want people raped? Of course not.

QUESTIONER: But you believe that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape?

MOURDOCK: Yes, that’s correct.

QUESTIONER: Incest, too?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I’ve said that consistently…

At one point, Mourdock added:

Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape? No, I don’t think that. Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.

Sick and twisted? Yes. It would be sick and twisted for someone to suggest that God preordained rape. But such a sick and twisted suggestion logically follows from a belief that God creates and thus necessarily “preordains” life. Even God can’t create something he hasn’t preordained, which is defined as “deciding or determining an outcome or course of action beforehand.”

Therefore, Mourdock’s theology, his firm belief that God creates and thus determines beforehand all life, has to logically lead him to believe that God also preordained the method through which he created that life. There simply isn’t any way around that, even if Mourdock, for political reasons, eventually backed away from that conclusion.

All of which demonstrates just what is wrong with the anti-choice position of zealots like Mourdock. If he were true to this theological beliefs, if he remained steadfast in defending them, he would say, yes, I don’t understand why, but since God creates life, and since a life is sometimes created through the agency of rape, then God necessarily preordains rape.

It is that simple.

And for all you women out there, and for all you men who have sisters, wives, or daughters, if you believe that women’s bodies are nothing more than vehicles for God to act out his indiscriminate life-giving aims, if you believe women’s bodies are a fit subject for neanderthalic men like Richard Mourdock to wage theological and philosophical “struggles” over, then go right ahead and vote for Mourdock and his dreadful but logical conclusions.

And then hope that God won’t choose you or a woman in your life to “create life” in some horrific way.

And while you are at it, you can also vote for Mourdock’s endorser, Mitt Romney, who said in a debate in 2007 that he would “be delighted to sign” a bill “banning all abortions.” Here’s the context of that remark, as provided by ABC News:

“I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period,” Romney said at the time. “That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.”

Pressed CNN host Anderson Cooper, “The question is: Would you sign that bill?”

“Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are,” Romney replied. “That’s not where America is today. Where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.”

Yeah, just terrific.

The national press has done a good job of ignoring the extremism of the Republican Party on the issue of abortion. I am convinced that not enough women, or men for that matter, understand what is at stake in this election, in terms of the reproductive and health care rights of women.

Finally, I want to end with something written about Mourdock and his remarks by Ross Kaminsky, a conservative who writes for the extremist, right-wing rag The American Spectator:

I think he’s just proven himself to be another person whose pro-life gut reactions trump what any intelligent person knows he should be saying in an election campaign — by which I do not mean to imply that he should say anything he doesn’t believe. He simply doesn’t need to say everything he does believe, especially when those things have essentially nothing to do with what the election — or the job he wants — is really about.

You see? Mourdock “doesn’t need to say everything he does believe.” He doesn’t need to reveal how extreme he is. Why? Kaminsky continues:

While his explanations make sense in the context of a religious belief, his comment was political suicide. He might still win his election, and I have to hope he does, but he’s just the latest example of why so many call the GOP the “stupid party.”

Sadly and disturbingly, Kaminsky doesn’t believe the GOP is the “stupid party” for believing such nonsense as Mourdock and Romney believe. No. He believes it is the stupid party for telling voters that they believe it.

And with the aid of a compliant, don’t-offend-the-conservatives press, a press that often glosses over such extremism, that stupid party may soon be running the entire country.

18 Comments

  1. We probably should keep in mind that logic and reason are villains in GOP theological circles. This is essential to the argument that middle and low income people should vote against their own self-interests and keep those God-ordianed rich and powerful people at the top: you know, God’s chosen leaders. Subservience is good, slavery is better. Critical thinking is a sin. I like (unhappily) Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” — but these people would never read such a book. The next item of business — should Mittens be elected — will be to breed a super race using willing or unwilling (it’s all God’s will, right) Nordic beauties to incubate the legions of un-black new world order citizens.

    Like

    • You know, the issue of critical thinking is important here. I hear conservatives all the time argue that we should use critical thinking to analyze all sorts of things, except their religious beliefs, or their political beliefs derived from them. Can’t have no stinkin’ critical thinkin’ there!

      But more important is this, I think: C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist, once said that to see through everything is the same as not to see. He was right. What he meant of course was that skepticism must have its limits. At some point, critical thinking has to lead to a conclusion, even if it is agnosticism. What happens on the extreme right is that everything, like climate change for instance, is examined and interpreted through an utter skepticism of man-centered modes of knowledge, modes like logic and science. In exchange for confidence in science, conservatives place their confidence in their ideological paridigm. Everything gets filtered through it first. And, sadly, most, but not all, conservatives base their ideological paridigm on some version of religious “truth.” That, to me, is what causes us so many problems.

      Like

      • That “absolute” religious truth keeps changing, however. Changing to suit the needs of the power mongers who pastor the megachurches and evangelical seminaries, the banks, the press, the congress, the Chamber of Commerce. The theological filtering is designed to accommodate the leaders who bequeath the middle-management power. The pastors (middle management) sold out centuries ago and even after the Reformation, the Protestant pastors sold out when they amassed enough power. It’s all prostitution. The parishioners who enable the thieves and demagogues get no free pass — if their IQ is higher than 80 and they can read. We are not the land of the free and the home of the brave. We are the land of the bought and home of cowards. BTW: I created a poster for Jim’s “Squirrels” — but I don’t know how to post a graphic. Lemme know.

        Like

        • Thgeneralist,

          Here’s where I will agree with you about the changing of their concept of “absolute” religious truth. Up until the late 1970s or so, evangelicals were not that committed to politics. One could even be an evangelical Christian, like Jimmy Carter, and be a good Democrat. Heck, William Jennings Bryan, perhaps the most famous evangelical politician in history, was a very progressive Democrat, even radical on some issues, in today’s terms. There are very few hard-core evangelicals who are also liberals or Democrats today.  In that sense, the truth of the religious right has moved from a Bible-centered theology about salvation, to one that ties, or attempts to tie, that theology to conservative economic philosophy and thus to Republican electoral success. That, in my view, is how evangelicals have allowed their message to be corrupted, a message that is now almost synonymous with the ideology of the Republican Party.

          By the way, email me the image and I will post it in your next response. That would be the easiest way, I think.

          Thanks,

          Duane

           

          Like

  2. It appears to me that Mourdock and other Teavangelists are caught up on the issue of theological determinism. This is from the Wikipedia article on that subject:

    Two forms of theological determinism exist. The first one accepts that humans have free will to choose their actions, holding that God, whilst knowing their actions before they happen, does not affect the outcome. The other form, known as “Hard Theological Determinism”, holds that free will does not exist, and God has absolute control over a person’s actions. The most prominent theologian espousing this latter view was John Calvin, a late mediaeval French Christian who was the main influence behind Calvinism, a form of Protestantism.

    Many other Christians have opposed this view. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Roman Catholic theologian, believed strongly that humanity had free will. The Jesuits were among the leading opponents of this view, because they held that divine grace was actual, in the sense that grace is among other things participative, and that humans could freely benefit from grace by a mediation between their own imperfect wills and the infinite mercy of God.

    Which of these views would Mourdock, Romney and the others have us believe? If the hypothetical rape discussed in Duane’s post were “preordained” by God, then is that not a rejection of the concept of free will? What would they say I wonder about the obvious fact that a healthy man and woman can decide whether or not to initiate a pregnancy? Planned pregnancies happen all the time in our society, including in vitro pregnancies in petri dishes. How can those be “preordained” by God? (My dictionary defines ordain as “order, decree, prescribe, determine”.) If those decisions are in fact preordained by God, then they are rejecting the notion of free will, and in that case we are simply God’s robotic amusements down here, a complicated computer game. And if we do have free will, would not a loving God want us to use it?

    Romney’s candicacy represents, as I have mentioned before, the potential for an unprecedented amalgamation of religion and government for America and their agenda, as Duane shows in this post, includes covert issues. This is scary stuff and we all ought to be alarmed.

    An acorn is not an oak tree. It has full potential to become an oak tree, but until the conditions are right, conditions subject to control by free will, an acorn is just squirrel food.

    Like

    • P.S. –

      One more thought relative to the abortion and free will issue. Todd Akin’s words about “a woman’s body has ways to shut that whole thing down” was obviously wrong in the rape context, but there’s another to which it applies, and that it when there is something genetically or physically wrong with the fetus. Consider please, this from the Wikipedia page for Miscarriage:

      One fact sheet from the University of Ottawa states, “The incidence of spontaneous abortion is estimated to be 50% of all pregnancies, based on the assumption that many pregnancies abort spontaneously with no clinical recognition.”[53] The NIH reports, “It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15–20%.”[54] Clinical abortions (those occurring after the sixth week LMP) occur in 8% of pregnancies.[52]
      The risk of aborting decreases sharply after the 10th week LMP, i.e., when the fetal stage begins.[55] The loss rate between 8.5 weeks LMP and birth is about two percent; loss is “virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period.”[56]
      The prevalence increases considerably with age of the parents. One study found that pregnancies from men younger than 25 years are 40% less likely to end in spontaneous abortion than pregnancies from men 25–29 years. The same study found that pregnancies from men older than 40 years are 60% more likely to end in spontaneous abortion than the 25–29-year age group.[57] Another study found that the increased risk in pregnancies from older men is mainly seen in the first trimester.[58] Yet another study found an increased risk in women, by the age of 45, on the order of 800% (compared to the 20–24 age group in that study), 75% of pregnancies ended in spontaneous abortion.

      This is science, folks. Abortion is nature’s way of dealing with the statistically messy process that is gestation, and it is statistically predictable. If all-knowing and all-powerful God ordains the start of some large percentage of pregnancies, then He must know that he is inflicting a cruel and flawed process on us poor creatures whom he created in his own image. I don’t buy it for a second and I don’t see how the Teavangelicals do either. The whole argument falls apart by itself.

      Like

      • Jim,

        Great point. I have argued many times to Bible-thumping, anti-choice Christians that God, who rules over nature in their book, is the greatest abortionist of all time.

        Duane

        Like

    • Jim,

      Thanks for mentioning the issue of free will, in the context of the issue of God preordaining life.

      The most taxing subject in my study of theology was the issue of whether healthy minds had legitimate free will, or whether it was an illusion, albeit a necessary and convincing one. The source for all systematic theology is ultimately the Bible. And the Bible, like on so many other issues, takes both sides of the debate. That is why Calvin and Aquinas could both be comfortable knowing they were right, even holding opposite views. So, as much as it offends Bible-believing Christians, the Bible, even if one considers it a sacred, inspired book, is exactly no help in coming to a conclusion.

      Of course, most of us know that the Bible is of no help anyway, since it is an ancient book written before science was a legitimate method of understanding the world and ourselves. Contemporary brain science is slowly unlocking a few of the secrets of how our physical brain operates, and how it gives rise to certain mental states. So far, only the surface has been scratched. But we do know that it is the state of our brain, at any given moment, that “causes” what we do or what we say subsequently. If our brain state was identical to, say, the man who gunned down his wife and others in a spa the other day, we, us, you or me, would have gunned them down, too. It was his brain, the way it was configured on that fateful day, that killed those people.

      Now, the question arises: How did that particular brain get in such a state on that particular day? Was it the man’s fault? Did he significantly contribute to the state of his brain in some way? Did he use his supposedly free will to alter his brain state in such a way that led him to kill? And if one thinks so, then how does one account for the past state of his brain that deliberately altered the future state of his brain? As always, there is a considerable debate going on in the philosophical community on this issue. I have listened to Dan Dennett and Sam Harris, particularly. I am leaning toward Harris’ position that we are only kidding ourselves if we think we have libertarian free will. But there is so much more to learn and much more to absorb before any hard conclusions can be drawn. It is all tentative, as far as I’m concerned.

      Duane

      Like

      • Right, Duane. I know we have discussed the free will issue before, and we two aren’t likely to settle it. However, statistical uncertainty as a facet of quantum physics has been proven to be fundamental, at least to most scientists’ satisfaction. I accept that – I’ve played too much solitaire to doubt it. So that means to me that events are ultimately unpredictable. And if that’s true, then I think we have to proceed on the assumption that free will exists, otherwise Jean Paul Sartre was right and everything is ultimately meaningless. Life is too interesting and too much fun, at times at least, to accept existentialism.

        Like

  3. jdhight01

     /  October 24, 2012

    I am unable to understand how such extremists as Mourdock and Akin can be so close in the polls. It is obvious that they believe a woman’s body is a man’s property by everything they are saying, and that women are second-class citizens. Now, after endorsing Mourdock, Romney wants to distance himself from the candidate and these comments, but his own running mate, Paul Ryan, has supported such measures in the past.

    I can’t understand how females, minorities, members of the LGBT community, students, union members, blue-collar workers, or elderly voters can support the Romney-Ryan ticket, which will do everything it can to take from them in order to enrich the wealthiest elite in this country. How many more times do we have to listen to supply side, “trickle-down” economic theory from candidates when it has been proven to fail? If we elect Romney-Ryan, it will be like electing George Bush again, and the working “class” will suffer while the elite prosper. It is so depressing.

    Like

    • Jim,

      When I found out yesterday that the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republicans, endorsed Romney (after not endorsing McCain in 2008), I was at a loss for words. The Republican Party has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to advance the rights of homosexuals. In fact, the base of the party is actively working against “legitimizing” the “homosexual lifestyle,” whatever that is. There are some among that Republican base who see this as a kind of holy war, the forces of evil versus the forces alligned with the Bible. It is impossible to understand how a group of gay people could endorse a candidate and thus a party that fundamentally refuses to recognize their legitimacy as homosexual human beings. I don’t get it and I will never get it.

      The same can be said for union members, who reportedly now are going to vote for Romney at a 40% or better clip. Imagine that. Voting for a party that has openly declared war against collective bargaining.

      The same can be said for women, who can see the obviously backwards view that Romney and Ryan and much of the GOP take toward their rights to contraception and reproductive choice.

      The same can be said for the elderly, who should be able to see that although Republicans have promised to keep their currrent benefits in place, the undermining of Social Security and Medicare will eventually affect them too. Younger folks who don’t get the same kind of benefits won’t long tolerate paying for the relatively generous benefits afforded to the elderly today.

      As for trickle-down economics, I’m afraid a large swath of the electorate cannot even begin to understand what that term means or how the philosophy it represents has failed the country. The national press fails to explain and point out that failure, in its effort not to offend conservatives, who constantly whine about a “liberal” press.

      The bottom line, Jim, is that some independents are looking at Romney because of the slow economic recovery. And the mainstream media, again afraid to be called out by conservatives, have failed to point out, day in and day out, the Republican sabotage of that recovery. The press talks about the failures of “Congress,” but not much about the deliberate failures of the “Republican” Congress. Thus, low-information voters cannot differentiate between Democrats, who have bent over backwards to compromise with Republicans, and Tea Party-drunk Republicans who won’t give an inch.

      It’s sad. It’s frustrating. But there is still much hope that Obama can overcome all of it and win.

      Duane

      Like

  4. Jane Reaction

     /  October 24, 2012

    It is quite amazing that the GOP can still pull out the abortion vote while the preponderant majority agreed on this question decades ago.

    Mourdock knows his peeps, however ignorant and compliant.

    By definite arrangement, the American public has been watching the political sideshow.

    Avoiding the reality that they-Romney, Obama, or God- cannot reverse our course, they ignore history. We are the last empire, and just like the Romans we traded our freedom for security. As widely predicted, we will retain neither at this rate.

    Like

    • Jane,

      Democrats pretty much stopped defending their position on abortion for the past several election cycles, at least aggressively defending the staunch pro-choice position. They went out of their way to soften the issue, fearing a backlash. What a mistake. That move allowed anti-choice zealots to gain a lot of ground, and they have moved public opinion a little more their way.

      Hopefully, the extremism on the Republican side this year is going to move it back.

      Duane

      Like

  5. S L McCoy

     /  October 25, 2012

    Thanks for being an “erstwhile” Republican. I like to address the issue without religion, but when religion comes into the claims of anti-choice people who self-label as Christians, I like to point out the following.

    1. There is not a single line in the original text of the Christian Bible in Hebrew/Greek that clearly condemns induced abortion (this is objectively provable and makes anti-choice people furious).

    2. The Gospels claim that God is the father of John the Baptist and God and the Holy Spirit are Jesus’s father – not that God and that Spirit are every human’s father. The point of Christianity is that, if you are not that Spirit’s natural child, you can be adopted – but you would then have behave in accord with it.

    3. That Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant only after she had agreed to pregnancy under pre-stated limiting conditions after thinking about it and getting satisfying answers to her questions, not before.

    4. That Spirit is clearly defined by two passages:
    a) “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”
    b) When it is on Jesus in the temple, he reads from an older scripture:
    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to preach deliverance to the captives . . . to set at liberty them that are bruised.”

    Those defining passages sound more like Roe v Wade than a right-wing anti-choice Christian. These deeply disturbed anti-choice Christians are the captives of serious ignorance. Someday, the Spirit may be able to deliver them. But meanwhile, the Democrats will do.

    Like

    • S.L.,

      1. Like you, I have argued on this blog several times, and argued privately with hard-core evangelicals, that the Bible has nothing useful to say on the subject of abortion. In fact, what it does say hurts the anti-choice case, in my opinion. I have tried to make the point that if abortion were such a horrible act, why didn’t at least Jesus have something, anything, to say about it?

      2. The incarnation of Jesus, his alleged birth via a virgin, is an incoherent claim, in terms of biological science, the only method we have of truly understanding these things. The idea that Jesus was fully God and yet fully human, that his divine nature was somehow not “mixed” with his human nature, requires a suspension of belief that makes further discussion impossible, at least in rational terms, with folks who hold to that claim.

      3. Likewise, I don’t have the slightest idea what the “Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant” could possibly mean, again in terms of biological science. Thus, it is hard to discuss it, except in terms of granting that other people believe it and thus believe other untenable things, which is what I think you are doing here.

      4. I like your approach with the “liberty” idea, but believe me, having been around a lot of zealous evangelicals and fundamentalists, heck, having been one myself, they do not interpret the word “liberty” the same way you and I might interpret it. What they mean by liberty, and I’m not kidding here, is the liberty to do what God commands us to do. So, your very good liberty argument, which should compel one to be on the side of choice, will certainly fall on deaf evangelical ears.

      Duane

      Like

  6. I don’t think Mr. Mourdock, or even the despicable Todd Akin, were endorsing rape, but that all life is precious. I think the issue that got raised here also transcends the politics. In the end Mourdock also ran into an inability to reconcile a loving good creates all life and it’s precious, but he did so through rape. How can God be all good and all powerful, yet is either unwilling or unable to end evil. He had no answer for this and neither do I or theologians through time.

    I’m troubled by abortion, believing life start not at conception but before birth, but in the end it should be a woman choice to make I think. I don’t think a ‘war’ on abortion will be any more successful than the war on drugs. War is a bad paradigm for deal with very many issue, and conservatives are way too enamored with it.

    Those who want to protect life, ought to support planned parenthood, and social programs that offer as many ways for a women facing an unplanned pregnancy to bring the chile to term. Wasn’t it Mr. Clinton who said abortion should be legal but rare?

    Like

%d bloggers like this: