I am re-publishing this "Skeptic's" column today because, if anything, it is even more relevant today than when it first appeared. I am also re-publishing it because, when I originally published it, politics used to be ... you know ... both fun and funny. So for a few moments, we can share a trip down Memory Lane to a time of comparative innocence.
Well, we are in that time of year again – July in general, and the Fourth in particular -- when we all make the obligatory pilgrimage to the First Church of American Exceptionalism, also known colloquially and variously as "the back yard" or "the deck" or "the patio", where we celebrate the Sacrament of Opportunistic Patriotism with beer instead of wine, with burgers instead of unleavened bread, on an outdoor barbecue grill instead of an alta
I have recently written elsewhere about the ontological and epistemological problems surrounding the current debate about abortion. These problems – almost always unacknowledged and even unconscious – plague both sides of the abortion debate, pro-choice no less than pro-life. But, in the process of reflecting on that “Skeptic’s” column and responding to reactions thereto, I have concluded that that earlier column did not really address the most fundamental problem with the current abortion debate: the difference – again, for the pro-choice position no less than its pro-life counterpart – goes even deeper than the disagreements I mentioned in that earlier column. In fact, so I would argue now, that most fundamental difference is not, at base, even religious or metaphysical or ph
Let’s try a thought experiment, shall we? Suppose we lived in a society where …
o … all civil government was subject to religious authority ... in fact, in most cases, the civil government just is the religious authority
o … that religious authority took its talking points, decision criteria, its policy directives from a dusty, mouldering religious text which was revered, even though vast tracts of it were well-nigh incomprehensible, and even the parts that could be understood were subject to a welter of varying, often contradictory, interpretations
o … even the authorized and approved – by the religious authority – interpretations of that text were subject to authoritative explication by councils of an exclusively male clergy
o … scholarly criticism and analysis of that text was stric