INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, March 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life battle is not primarily about overturning Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion across the U.S. in 1973, Catholic ethicist Dr. Benjamin Wiker told a leading pro-life conference Friday. The real battle is against a pervasive”materialist philosophy” that sees no inherent value in human life, he added.
The infamous court case is just one of the many effects of a far more comprehensive cultural divide between those who hold two rival and incompatible views of reality, he said, illustrating a bigger picture issue of which abortion is a symptom.
The pro-life movement must understand and defend the big picture war on the principles of Christianity to be able to win the abortion battle in front of them, said Wiker.
“You can’t fix the little picture without fixing the big picture,” he told the pro-life gathering.
The Senior Fellow at the Veritas Center for Ethics and Public Life and Professor of Political Science and Human Life Studies at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio addressed attendees of the Bringing America back to Life convention presented Friday and Saturday by Cleveland Right to Life.
The convention, in its ninth year, centers on prayer, action, voting and education for the pro-life movement on the local, regional and increasingly the national level.
Wiker also explained, as he says he does for his students, that the addressing the big picture issue entails fighting for life in areas normally considered to be outside the pro-life arena.
There is some serious intellectual work to be done along with front-line efforts, he said.
Wiker said he works to help students understand how things went bad with the overall rejection of the sanctity of life. And he stresses to them that the pro-life movement can be defended in any discipline, including philosophy, biology, and mathematics, because of the overall influence those areas have on society.
He detailed contrasts between Christianity and the Epicurean Materialist philosophy for the conference, and how the two opposing philosophies play into the pro-life movement. Epicurean thought seeks to reject a higher power, rejecting with it the idea of human beings made in God’s image and thus the sanctity of life.
They are essentially two different views of reality, said Wiker.
The Materialist philosophy of ancient pagan Greek philosopher Epicurus has come to saturate nearly every aspect of our culture, he said, including our way of life and thinking, and our views of law, science, rationality, and reality.
Christianity has been slowly getting displaced and replaced in the last several hundred years by Epicurean Materialism, he said, the result a mix of these two opposite ways of understanding things, creating the environment for current pro-life battles.
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus espoused the idea the Greek gods were the source of all evil and argued they must be gotten rid of, according to Wiker. He also believed human beings were just another random jostling of atoms without souls.
This mindset eliminates the concern for morality.
Where Christianity holds that human beings are made in the image of their creator, with an eternal destiny and impending judgment after death, said Wiker, in the Epicurean materialist view, there is only matter, and no God, so that philosophy presumes human beings have no soul and are fundamentally no different than animals.
Euthanasia is just as humane for humans as it is for animals in the Epicurean view.
All Christian moral prohibitions are rooted in one central truth, Wiker pointed out, that human beings are not just another animal, and if this is taken away, the foundation is done away with.
“If there is no essential qualitative difference between a human being and any other animal,” Wiker said, “if that is the truth, then all prohibitions against murder of whatever kind are entirely without foundation, unless we want to prohibit the killing of any and all creatures.”
Opposition to euthanasia is not about a single moral issue for the Christian, he added, it is about the protection of morality itself by maintaining the essential distinction between animals, which we can euthanize and human beings, whom we should not.
“In fighting against abortion, you’re not just fighting against abortion, you are fighting for all morality,” said Wiker, “because it rests on that one little distinction.”
Society is deeply divided by these two rival views, he told the pro-life gathering.
“So we don’t have a mere legal disagreement about Roe v. Wade and how it’s decided,” stated Wiker, “we have a disagreement about reality, about truth, about what a human being is.”
Roe v. Wade is a symptom, an effect, of this deepest of all disagreements on reality itself.
“This is difficult news for my students in pro-life studies,” Wiker said, “because they want to believe that all will be well if they could just overturn Roe v. Wade. They really want to believe that’s all that’s necessary.”
“What they soon see that the other side doesn’t just disagree about abortion, they disagree about the nature of reality, about what a human being is, about what nature is, about the existence of God,” he said. “Abortion is murder if, and only if, a human being is qualitatively distinct from other animals.”
The big picture disagreements are also the cause of other cultural battles we experience, he added.
Drawing from the discipline of biology, Wiker said the reductionist approach, which reduces living things solely to their biological makeup, and defines nearly every aspect of modern biology, is a form of Epicurean Materialism that opens the door to viewing the unborn child as merely a mass of cells, thus indirectly supporting abortion.
The acceptance of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s ideas has also led to the acceptance of abortion, he said.
Rousseau thought that man was moved primarily by his appetites, reducing the sexual act to something purely animal and rendering marriage unnatural. If man is acting solely on his sexual desires like an animal, Wiker said the “need” for abortion would then follow.
He detailed a number of historical figures and forms of thought that have also fed Epicurean Materialism, making its continued effects possible today.
Historically, Christianity is the only source for abortion being illegal in the west, he said.
It’s the one reason why there’s such a thing as a pro-life struggle, or Roe v. Wade. Abortion had not been illegal, but the principles of Christianity caused that to be changed.
“The only reason that abortion became illegal is that Christians evangelized the Roman Empire with the big picture of Christianity,” stated Wiker. “The whole message about a loving God creating the world, human beings being made in the image of God, of the fall in need of redemption, of the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The prohibition of abortion was one part of that big evangelical picture about reality.”
With Christianity and the moral pieces that flow from its central doctrines having been on the decline, the return of abortion was inevitable.
“The big picture must change or the small picture will remain the same,” Wiker said.
“Christians must re-evangelize what has been de-evangelized by Epicurean Materialists, he said, “but they also need to tell the whole big truth about Christianity if we want the smaller truth that abortion is murder to be overturned.”