On Truth and Abortion
Judging from the hysteria following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, great numbers of people are now furiously burying their heads in sand so deep it may not be possible, short of divine intervention, to dig them out.
Of all the needs that drive the engine of the soul, there is none more pressing than the need to know and to love the truth. It is as necessary to the maintenance of the soul as food is to the body or oxygen to the lungs. Without truth, and the human hunger for it, the soul shrivels up and dies.
This applies even to those who persist in telling us that there is no soul, a refusal that, until quite recently, was widely regarded as a species of insanity. Rather like the refusal to eat or drink, followed by repeated insistence that one is perfectly healthy. If the soul stands wide open before the world, then it would be unnatural not to take it in, seizing upon it in all its wonder and detail. Isn’t this what distinguishes us from the other primates, this openness, this passion, this unquenchable thirst for truth? “All human beings,” says Aristotle, “desire to know.” And that which they desire above all else to know, is truth. Not falsehood or folly, but truth and the wisdom it brings.
We are made for truth, therefore, which is nothing other than the connection between what is real and our awareness of its being real. The period spent between naps, you might say. And the moment we wake up, judgment looms, impelling us to see the correspondence, to connect the dots. We have simply got to sink our teeth into the truth we affirm, not shrink from making that connection, but laying hold of the thread that joins what I know to that which is. And so to choose not to live in the presence of truth, or to be in active pursuit of it, indeed, to scorn the very idea or thought that there could ever be such a thing, is nothing less than spiritual suicide, an asphyxiation in which the soul expires for want of the very air it needs to breathe. A strange and perverse sort of predicament, one would think.
But suppose it were true, that there really were no truth to know or to love, what then? It would mean a world no more wicked than which can be imagined. It would mean we’d been deceived, swindled by God himself. Victims of a cruel hoax, a celestial cheat no less, in which God himself would have condemned us to a life where, at the deepest possible level, we’d been made for something that simply did not exist. And what would that leave us with? Nothing more than the anguished cry of Macbeth, whose last moments were spent howling over “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Better to slit one’s throat than to try and subsist on a diet of purest idiocy.
“I inquire in order to know something,” says Augustine, “not to think it.” It is the only recipe for remaining sane. To know what is real, what the facts truly are, and only then to muse about it. Augustine also says that while he has met many men who have wanted to deceive, he has yet to meet anyone who wanted to be deceived. True enough, I suppose, on paper. But what about in practice? Maybe not among fellow Augustinians, of course, who feed on truth much as flowers feed on sunlight. But have we not come across lots of people these days, who not only despise the pursuit of truth, fanatically refusing the offer to take nourishment from the table on which the banquet of truth is laid out, but desire even to be deceived about the truth themselves, yes, even when it stares them square in the face?
Among the possible categories of men, clearly the most wretched are those who neither search for, nor ever find, the truth for which they were made. Such creatures are neither reasonable, nor happy, having refused to take up this most basic of human tasks, which is to know and to love the truth. In fact, so entrenched are they in falsehood, in behaviors steeped in lies, that to tell them otherwise is to incite them to violence.
Of such paroxysms we have seen many such examples since the Supreme Court decision. How else do we account for the meltdown among so many advocates of abortion, who despite the clearest possible evidence of life in the womb, are nevertheless determined on its destruction? It cannot be that, having failed the exam in high school biology, they genuinely do not know when life begins. It should not be the job of the Supreme Court to point out this simple truth. How hard can it be to follow the various stages of human development now that we know there is but one point of origin for it, namely, the very instant of the child’s conception in the womb of its mother?
And, yet, judging from wave upon wave of hysteria surrounding the outcome of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, great numbers of people who, for years and year have claimed the moral high ground, are now furiously burying their heads in sand so deep it may not be possible, short of divine intervention, to dig them out. It is not that they remain unconvinced of the humanity of the child, whose life they demand the right to end, it is that they actually prefer the darkness of refusing to admit it. They desire nothing more than to remain in the dark and to drag the rest of down into that fetid and infernal darkness as well.
We must not allow that to happen.